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Steal This Idea: Wind Powered Subways

New York City's Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, recently announced a plan to dramatically increase the city's sustainability by 2030. Here is an idea that might help the Big Apple reach its goal. It's free for the taking.


New York City's Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, recently announced a massive plan to dramatically increase the city's level of sustainability by 2030. Here is an idea that might help the Big Apple reach its goal. It's free for the taking.

The idea:

Each year, the New York subway system uses 1.8-billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, making it the city's single largest consumer of electricity. What if the subway's MetroCard machines offered the option of paying a small premium to purchase the rider's share of electricity from non-polluting wind power instead of traditional hydroelectric, nuclear, and fossil fuel sources?

How it might work:

For its residential customers, ConEdison-the city's only electricity company-charges an additional 2.5 cents per kilowatt-hour to use wind energy. The average subway ride uses 1.2 kilowatt-hours of power (based on 1.5 billion 2006 rides), which means the wind power surcharge would amount to 3 extra cents a ride-a 1.5 percent increase from the normal $2 charge.

What it means:

With a 1.5 percent surcharge, a seven-day unlimited pass wouldcost $24.36 (up from $24), and a 30-day unlimited pass would cost $77.14 (up from $76). Say the surcharge was 5 percent-those prices would only increase to $25.20 and $79.80. A 5-percent per ride surcharge with a slim 10-percent participant rate could inject as much as $15 million into the wind-power market annually.