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Northern Suburbs Throwing The Switch On Solar Energy Initiatives

MAMARONECK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A New York state mandate that will dramatically increase the use of solar power is energizing the northern suburbs.

That's where communities are throwing the switch on new initiatives almost every week.

The roof of Hommocks Ice Rink in Mamaroneck ends up being a perfect place to harness the sun. Solar panels collect energy, which flows through inverter boxes and into the Con Edison power grid.

It is one of many suburban solar projects coming on line to help meet a state mandate.

"The law now in New York state requires a very rapid transition to renewable energy," said Nina Orville, with Sustainable Westchester.

She says by 2030, the percentage of electricity generated by renewables must triple from 23% to 70%.

"So we're talking about a really dramatic, rapid transformation," she said.

This week, Yonkers announced a big community solar project on the roof of an office park and a plan to install solar on top of additional city-owned buildings, along with solar panels over a parking deck.

"The message is clear. The laws are there. We have to be more sustainable, and I think that's the way of the world now, so we're gonna do it," Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano told CBS2's Tony Aiello.

The mayor says Yonkers is thinking big and small.

A solar power station at City Hall charges smartphones, the city fleet has dozens of hybrid vehicles and YPD will soon join Fremont, California, in testing an all-electric Tesla cop car.

"There's all kinds of ways that you can participate in how we get our energy and how we power our homes and power our vehicles. We're being creative about it, and we hope people take notice and participate," said Jason Baker, Yonkers sustainability director.

Many solar programs offer participation that can pay off. In Mamaroneck, residents of an affordable housing project can enroll in a Community Solar program and get a 10% break on their electric bill.

Community Solar gives the benefits of solar panels to residents of apartment buildings who can't install them.

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