NEW YORK, NY – In New York, the epicenter of the food truck boom, city officials are starting to tackle the issue. A pilot program unveiled this week will give vendors a chance to lease up to 500 energy-efficient, solar-powered carts for five years at no or little cost. If successful, the initiative could be replicated in other cities where conventional food carts contaminate the air.

“New York City is still dealing with an air quality crisis,” Donovan Richards, a city council member and the environmental committee chair, said Monday from City Hall Park. He noted that 2,000 city residents die every year from soot and smog pollution, which cause asthma attacks and heart problems. With the program, “We’re ensuring every New Yorker has high access to good air quality,” Richards said.

The city is partnering with MOVE Systems, a New York tech company that built and designed the cleaner carts. Instead of diesel and propane, the cart’s electricity and heating comes from a rectangular rooftop solar panel and a rechargeable battery pack. If needed, a generator filled with compressed natural gas can provide back-up power.

Each model is expected to cut greenhouse gas pollution by 60 percent, compared to generators in traditional carts, Energy Vision, a clean-energy research firm, said in an independent analysis of the carts. The newer versions could slash levels of smog-causing nitrous oxides by around 95 percent. Richards said the program will also help the city reach its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. “This is a small way to get there,” he said.

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