Environment Arizona Research & Policy Center
Phoenix – Today, Environment Arizona Research & Policy released a new report; “Shining Cities: At the Forefront of America’s Solar Energy Revolution,” which ranks Phoenix third among major U.S. cities for the amount of solar installed. The report provides a first-of-its-kind comparative look at the growth of solar in major America cities.
“Cities are the focal point of this solar energy revolution and that has Phoenix looking on the bright side,” said Environment Arizona’s Bret Fanshaw.
The report found that there is more than 200 times as much solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed in the U.S. today compared to 2002, much of that in America’s cities. The to 20 cities account for 7 percent of the installed photovoltaic solar, while occupying only 0.1 percent of the land area.
“Solar power is booming across the country and cities are at the forefront,” said Fanshaw. “It’s a no-brainer that Phoenix, the heart of the Valley of the Sun, should be near the top of the list.”
With the cost of solar coming down, growing awareness of the benefits of solar power is emerging as a mainstream energy solution with widespread benefits for our health, our economy and the environment.
“It is great to see sunny Phoenix ranked number three among major U.S. cities for installed solar,” said Mark Holohan, President of the Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association. “This ranking is a reflection of historical policy support by a variety of Arizona leaders, and the City of Phoenix deserves recognition for its demonstrated commitment to solar and sustainability. My hope is that leaders will help us reverse the decline in our state’s solar market activity so that we continue to maintain high rankings in the future.”
The report highlighted the benefits of solar energy including:
Solar energy avoids pollution—Pollution-free energy from the sun reduces air pollution that contributes to urban smog and global warming. It also helps save the massive amount of water that’s normally consumed during the cooling of a fossil fuel burning power plant.
Solar energy protects consumers— Since solar has no fuel costs, it can protect us from the rising cost of fossil fuels.
Solar energy helps the economy— Arizona has 8,558 solar jobs, the 2nd most solar jobs of any state.
The top 20 solar cities in this report have more solar power within their city limits than was installed in the entire U.S. just five years ago.
“Solar is clean, its local, and it’s a symbol of the direction we should be headed on energy,” said Will Greene with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “By ramping up solar, we can reduce pollution, while creating local jobs in our communities.”
Forward-thinking local leaders have helped make this happen by adopting policies that encourage investment in solar PV installations:
- City leaders can set ambitious and achievable goals and citizens and businesses can work with local governments to meet them. Cities can lead by example by putting solar on public buildings, like at the Phoenix Public Library and downtown parking garages.
- Cities can adopt policies to advance solar power in their communities, including tax incentives, low interest loan programs and solar friendly zoning and building codes. Cities can also run “Solarize” programs that use bulk purchasing and educational campaigns to help neighbors “go solar” together. The Solar Phoenix 1 & 2 programs successfully helped nearly 2,000 residents go solar from 2009-2012.
- City leaders can work with state government to ensure that they have strong programs to expand solar, including renewable energy standards, solar carve-outs or feed-in tariffs, net metering and community solar programs. Arizona’s renewable energy standard of 15% by 2025 played a role in the success of solar in Phoenix, as well as the city’s standard which mirrors the statewide RES.
- City leaders can also demand a strong partnership with the Federal government to ensure that federal incentives such as tax credits are continued. And, that federal programs, such as the Solar America’s Cities and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant programs continue to provide support and technical assistance to cities seeking to expand solar.
“The sky’s the limit on solar energy. Phoenix is a shining example of solar leadership,” said Fanshaw. “But, we’ve barely scratched the surface of the potential to capture this pollution-free energy source. By committing to bold goals and expanding on the good policies we’ve adopted, we can take solar to the next level.”