The City Council will consider a bill Monday to standardize wind-turbine installation on rooftops as part of a suite of green legislation wending its way through the chamber.
Currently, anyone who wants a turbine must apply for a special permit from the Department of Buildings, which is notorious for bureaucracy.
"As anyone who's dealt with [the department] knows, even the most garden-variety projects can often ensnare you in endless strands of red tape," Councilman Costa Constantinides, a Queens Democrat and sponsor of the bill, said in a speech earlier this year. "When you add cutting-edge technology on top of that, you're only complicating it further."
The legislation would standardize the process so property owners would know exactly what to do and inspectors would use the same set of criteria to judge every project. The idea is to help make the city more energy-efficient.
A complementary Constantinides bill would require officials to create a wind map showing where these devices would work best.
Solar panels tend to be more cost-effective small-scale power generators, but not all rooftops are conducive to their installation, creating an opportunity for wind.
Small wind turbines can be used to generate modest amounts of power as well as make a statement about renewable energy, but they are nowhere near the top of the list in terms of potential to make the city greener. Reducing power consumption of buildings, which account for nearly three-quarters of the city's greenhouse-gas emissions, provides the biggest payoff. Large-scale wind farms can also move the needle; the state's Energy Research and Development Authority is working on a plan for turbines off the coast of Long Island.