New York's mayor said solutions to the city's energy problems are blowing in the wind.
At the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas Tuesday night, Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed placing windmills atop skyscrapers and bridges and turbines in the East and Hudson rivers to help power the city.
Bloomberg's "windmill power plan" is the boldest environmental proposal yet from the billionaire independent, who has been trying to make energy efficiency a legacy of his administration, reports CBS station WCBS-TV reporter Magee Hickey.
The plan also includes the use of solar panels, possibly on the roofs of public and private buildings, Hickey reports.
"When it takes to producing clean power, we're determined to make New York the number one city in the nation," Bloomberg said.
The mayor lunched with fellow billionaire, Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens, who is currently angling to build the world's largest wind farm in his home state.
Bloomberg gave companies until September 19 to submit innovative proposals to make New York "greener" by 2030.
"It would be a thing of beauty if when 'Lady Liberty' looks out on the horizon, she not only welcomes new immigrants to our shores but lights their way with a torch powered by an ocean wind farm," the mayor said.
Bloomberg said the energy discussion was timely, and he criticized presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain for not having a real debate about energy.
"They're treating us to a political silly season," Bloomberg said, not mentioning either candidate by name but citing ideas such as tapping the nation's strategic oil reserve or giving Americans a gas tax holiday.
"The best that can be said about these ideas is that they're pandering," Bloomberg said. "Far worse, they're distractions from the deadly serious business of creating a new national energy policy."
One by one, speakers at the meeting touted the benefits of various energy-related initiatives, including how large-scale solar power could generate thousands of jobs and why wind power could lessen America's dependence on foreign oil. Extending tax credits, establishing caps on carbon emissions and modernizing the nation's electricity grid were also ideas that speakers said would be crucial to building a "green" economy.
Former President Bill Clinton laid out a 10-point plan Monday that included expanded research for carbon dioxide storage and accelerating a shift toward plug-in hybrid electric cars.
Pickens also presented his plan to develop wind energy to generate 20 percent of the nation's electricity, then use natural gas to power cars until hydrogen or plug-in electric cars become widely available.
"I don't see many people from my party," said Pickens, a Republican. "I'm making new friends, and that's good."
Representatives from Google Inc. and General Electric Co. said Tuesday that widespread use of renewable energy in United States would be possible - if it were cheaper.
Renewable energy options will remain "boutique" industries unless their costs are cut to make them competitive with coal and other widely used power sources, said Dan Reicher, director for climate change and energy initiatives at Google.org, the company's philanthropic arm.
Reicher spoke to a group of politicians and energy experts at the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas. The meeting's attendees said they hope to develop a national energy agenda to take to the Democratic and Republican parties at their upcoming conventions.
"There's a whole set of factors that go into the ultimate cost of energy," Reicher said after announcing a plan for Google to invest more than $10 million to develop technology to generate energy from rocks deep below the earth's surface.
Google's project replicates traditional geothermal systems deep below the Earth's surface by circulating water through hot rock and running the steam through a turbine that generates electricity.
Google said its goal was to produce one gigawatt of renewable energy capacity - enough to power a major city.
"These are all high-capital-costs projects," Reicher said.