The cities that have been most successful at embracing solar power share a set of priorities: they’ve set high goals for solar capacity, they’ve ensured that homeowners receive a fair price for the solar energy they supply to the grid, they have made installing panels hassle-free and they provide attractive financing options.
That’s why Environment America's Shining Cities project set a goal of convincing 50 American cities to think bigger, plan smarter, and tap the sun for more power. For example, our state and local advocates, members, and activists are:
- backing a strong solar energy goal in Las Cruces and other cities in New Mexico, building on our successful 2016 effort to commit Albuquerque to getting 25 percent of the city government’s electricity from solar power, and
- urging Tempe to increase the city’s renewable energy goal, a 20 percent by 2025 commitment we helped persuade the city to set in 2014. Tempe is already ahead of schedule, so we’re encouraging the city to set a 100 percent renewable energy goal that promotes more local solar power.
Of course every mayor wants her city to be a leader, especially when it comes to an innovation with the kind of broad transpartisan support that solar enjoys. So we’re encouraging mayors to run a race to the top on solar by comparing the growth of solar city by city in our annual Shining Cities report, showcasing the results through the news media and on social media, and providing the resources cities need to capture more energy from the sun through our Mayors for Solar Energy project.
Even as we make the case for solar on environmental grounds, we’re bringing together a broad coalition that can offer a variety of reasons for local officials to act — from “Green Tea Party” activists in Georgia who want “energy freedom” to solar installers in Arizona who want green jobs, from low-income communities in Massachusetts that want cleaner air to business owners in Colorado who want to power their breweries and cafes with solar.
Since the 1970s our network of state affiliates has been calling for and winning pro-solar policies and progressing all the way to California’s Million Solar Roofs Initiative of 2006 and beyond. Environment America and our national network have chalked up solar policy victories in 12 states, plus Atlanta, San Diego, Albuquerque and more than a dozen other cities. Past successes make it easier for cities to aim higher now, and for more cities and states to jump on the bandwagon.