It’s time for America to go big on solar power

More of us are going solar, meeting our energy needs in a way that’s clean, local and independent. Consider:

  • Solar power has tripled in the U.S. in the last two years, with another American family or business going solar every four minutes.
  • That’s in part because the price of solar has dropped more than 50 percent since 2011.
  • The chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said that “solar is growing so fast it is going to overtake everything...It could double every  two years.”

Who's attacking solar?

Unfortunately, solar power’s rapid growth has alarmed some dirty energy companies. They keep putting up new roadblocks to solar -- so they can keep solar generating less than 3% of our power, even if it means more pollution and more global warming.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Charles and David Koch, owners of the oil conglomerate Koch Industries, and their allies have spent heavily to impose new taxes on homeowners who go solar – in effect, penalizing those who reduce their pollution and their carbon footprint.
  • The Edison Electric Institute, which represents electric utility companies, has teamed up with the American Legislative Exchange Council to dismantle state pro-solar laws in Kansas, North Carolina and Washington State, amid others.
  • Oklahoma, Arizona and Ohio already have moved to scale back their solar programs.

Keep the solar surge going strong

Solar power might disrupt the business plans of dirty energy companies, but it makes a ton of sense for America.

That’s why people from all walks of life are getting behind solar, from environmentalists to Tea Party activists, from solar entrepreneurs to Barry Goldwater, Jr., son of the former Republican nominee for president.

Our challenge is to not only fend off the attacks being led by the dirty energy lobby, but to keep the surge in solar power going strong.

How do we do it?

Our research shows the cities and states with the most solar power aren’t necessarily the ones with the most sunshine; they also include states with smart pro-solar policies. For example:

  • Arizona, Hawaii and California made the list of the top 10 states for solar in our 2014 report. But so did Massachusetts, New Jersey, Colorado and Delaware, all thanks to smart policies.
  • The top 10 solar states, with only 26% of the nation’s population, were responsible for 87% of the nation’s solar power.
  • Our report found all or nearly all of the states shared a set of smart policies in common, from strong clean energy standards to policies that let solar homeowners sell their extra power back to the utilities.

10 percent solar by 2030

We need more and better pro-solar policies, not fewer. That’s why we’re urging governors and mayors in 14 states to make commitments that will help put America on the road to 100% clean energy, with 10% solar by 2030.

Achieving this goal would produce immediate and long-lasting benefits, including removing 280 million metric tons of carbon from the atmosphere by 2030—the equivalent of taking 59 million cars off the road.

Let's go big on solar

We think a combination of professional research and advocacy with community action can help America go big on solar. Why? Our national federation has done it before.

Environment California spearheaded the campaign for that state’s Million Solar Roofs Initiative. In Massachusetts, we helped convince the state to set a goal of enough solar to power 50,000 homes – and then persuaded the state to raise the goal when it hit the original milestone ahead of schedule. We’ve also won pro-solar policies in Colorado, New Mexico, Minnesota, Arizona, New Jersey and North Carolina.            

But we have a long way to go to reach solar power’s true potential.

It’s time to go big on solar. If we take the right steps today, we can harness more power from the sun so we can finally leave dirty energy behind. The sky really is the limit.

Issue updates

News Release | Environment America

Finalized Building Energy Codes Would Reduce Carbon Pollution by 200 Million Tons and Save U.S. Consumers and Businesses $40 Billion Annually by 2030

Today, the International Codes Council released the final version of updated energy codes for homes and businesses. The widespread adoption of this updated code by local and state governments, which are 30 percent more effective than the 2006 code, would save American homes and businesses $40 billion annually in energy costs by 2030, according to the Alliance to Save Energy.

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News Release | Environment America

Senate Committee to Vote on Dangerous Energy Bill

Today, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will consider the Clean Energy Finance Act of 2011. The bill would create an energy deployment administration with broad authority to provide financial support for a wide array of energy technologies. While energy use and production remains the largest source of pollution in the U.S., the deployment administration could support energy technologies that are as dirty as our current energy sources. For electricity, the bill could subsidize nuclear power, advanced coal, natural gas and municipal solid waste along with truly clean technologies such as wind, solar power and energy efficiency. In the transportation sector, the bill could subsidize fuels that are as dirty as gasoline, which is responsible for more global warming pollution than any other fuel source in the United States. Finally, the bill could also support technologies like coal-to-liquids or tar sands oil as long as their emissions were comparable to those of gasoline.

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News Release | Environment America

Visionary Solar Power Legislation Considered in Senate Committee

The Ten Million Solar Roofs Act of 2011 will be considered in the Energy and Natural Resources committee today. Senators Bernie Sanders (I - VT), John Boozman (R – AR) and Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D – NM) introduced the Act, which would establish a goal of powering 10 million homes and businesses with solar energy by 2020. The measure also would incorporate a Department of Energy initiative called SunShot to make solar power more competitive with conventional energy technologies. The bill would provide grants to communities to help them make their solar energy permitting process less costly and more efficient, and would recognize and reward communities that have adopted common policies on solar permits.

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News Release | Environment America

House Considers Step Backwards on Energy Efficient Light Bulbs

The House of Representatives will soon vote on Rep. Barton’s Better Use of Light Bulbs (BULB) Act. The bill would repeal energy efficiency standards for light bulbs that were originally passed with industry support and a large bipartisan majority in 2007. According to a study by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy the standards could lead to $11.9 billion per year in energy savings when fully instituted

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News Release | Environment America

San Antonio Power Plant Expected to Be Retired

Environment Texas hailed the expected announcement today by San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro that the city-owned CPS Energy will retire the polluting Deely power plant by the year 2018 and replace its power with additional investments in solar energy. According to research by Environment Texas, in 2009, the Deely plant emitted 3657 tons of nitrogen oxide, a key precursor to smog pollution. The two Deely smokestacks join with the two “Spruce” units to make up the Calaveras Power Station, which an April Environment Texas report found ranked 11th out of the state’s 20 power plants for mercury pollution. And according to a study by the Clean Air Task Force, power plant pollution in Bexar County is linked to 282 asthma attacks and 11 deaths every year.

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