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NYCHA launches pilot program to provide some residents with free AC

June 17, 2019 - 11:13 am

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- For the first time ever, the New York City Public Housing Authority is launching a pilot program that would provide free air conditioning to some of its residents.

The pilot is starting off in just two buildings of NYCHA's roughly 2,500 properties but until now, tenants purchased their own window air conditioners, but they must be professionally installed and also pay an annual fee to offset the cost of additional power they consume.

The pilot is expected to begin in the coming weeks and residents of Meltzer Tower in Manhattan East Village will be offered high-efficiency window air conditioner units.

Tenants on the top floor of the Independence Houses in the Bronx, who choose to take part will be outfitted with air source heat pumps, a type of equipment that can be used to either cool or heat a unit.

None of the tenants who opt into the program in either location will be charged the extra electricity fee.

According to a report from WNYC, the programs' launch stems from various sources.

One is the growing potential that heat has to kill large number of New Yorkers.

The city estimates that about 115 people die from heat stroke or heat-exacerbated illnesses each year with elderly residents are particularly at risk, which is why both locations chosen for the pilot are senior housing.

"The city has made it very clear that providing air conditioning in case of high heat events is very important," said Bomee Jung, the vice president for energy and sustainability at the housing authority. "Very quickly, the question that NYCHA asked itself about being a landlord is, 'How do we provide cooling if it's necessary?''

Consolidated Edison now penalizes customers with high peak usage and rewards those that reduce peak consumption making that another factor.

One goal of the pilot program is to see if they can make it cost-neutral, so that what NYCHA is paying to power tenants' current window units equals the cost of buying and installing air cooling equipment, as well as the power that equipment consumes.

It is not yet know whether NYCHA will expand the program to all senior housing buildings, or even to all authority-owned property. 

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