Times Square getting green billboard

November 15, 2008 4:25:15 PM PST
This winter, New Year's Eve revelers will have a close-up view of Times Square's first environmentally friendly billboard powered entirely by wind and sun.Construction on the 35,000-pound sign advertising the Ricoh Americas Corp. is to begin this month at 3 Times Square, across the avenue from the building where the ball drops on New Year's Eve.

Powered by 16 wind turbines and 64 solar panels, the sign is expected to save $12,000 to $15,000 per month in electricity costs.

Ricoh estimates the sign will also keep 18 tons of carbon out of the environment.

The billboard may not be quite as dazzling as some of its high-powered neighbors along the Great White Way.

It will be lit by floodlights, rather than light-emitting diodes, and won't have a backup generator, so it could go dark during a long period with little wind or sun.

But Ricoh spokesman Ron Potesky said the sign's turbines will probably be able to keep the billboard lit even after four days without breezes or bright sun.

Passers-by will be able to see the turbines in action.

"The point is that there are ways of being environmentally friendly to the planet, even on a billboard," Potesky said.

A lighting ceremony for the 126-foot wide, 47-foot tall sign is scheduled for Dec. 4.

Ricoh is an office equipment and document storage supplier.

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