Environment Maryland Research and Policy Center
BALTIMORE, MD – Solar in Baltimore grew 57% from 2015 to 2016, according to new research released today by Environment Maryland Research & Policy Center.
The report comes as Baltimore mayor Catherine Pugh released her first budget, which includes funding for new solar-powered compacting trash cans and 6,000 new high-efficiency LED lights.
“By using solar power here in Baltimore, we can reduce pollution and improve public health for everyday Marylanders,” said Anna Hofmann with Environment Maryland. “To realize these benefits, city leaders should continue to embrace a big vision for solar on rooftops throughout the community.”
The report, Shining Cities: How Smart Local Policies Are Expanding Solar Power in America, notes that Baltimore went from 7 MW to 11 MW of installed solar capacity from 2015 to 2016. Baltimore ranks 29th for installed solar nationally, ahead of cities like Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Richmond, VA.
“Baltimore City is an established leader in solar energy, and we will use our momentum to expand solar from commercial to residential with renewable energy programs, such as the PACE program that I introduced, to help not only green our City but also spur economic development,” said Eric Costello, Councilman for Baltimore’s 11th District. “I am looking forward to finding even more ways to make solar energy a reality in Baltimore.”
Solar has grown in Baltimore because of local commitments and programs such as an emerging loan financing system, which brings solar to low-income households, nonprofits, and small businesses. Solar-friendly state policies like net metering have also played a role. As Maryland expands its renewable energy standard and implement community solar, Baltimore will likely see solar continue to expand.
“As I travel throughout my District and around Baltimore, I notice powering in the future with solar energy,” said Sharon Middleton, Councilwoman for Baltimore’s 6th District. “It continues to be gaining traction in many communities. Constituents and families are taking advantage of offered career training programs, benefits and financing programs. All are available to homeowners, including low-income homeowners. Just look up at those shining rooftops, to see the wonderful changing environment!”
The figures in the report reflect the recent growth of solar across the country. The top 20 cities listed in the report have nearly as much solar today as the entire country had installed in 2010. In 2016, solar was the number one new source of energy installed in America.
The Solar Foundation just released new data showing there are 5,429 solar jobs in Maryland, a 27 percent increase from 2016.
Corey Ramsden of MD Solar United Neighborhoods said, “Urban rooftop solar can be challenging compared to the suburbs but is critical to equitable expansion of renewable access in Maryland. Baltimore has improved the consistency of permitting reviews for solar but more work is needed. We hope the city will continue to focus on supporting solar expansion in Baltimore with friendly, clear, and efficient permitting and inspection procedures.”
Cities can push solar forward in a number of ways, according to the report. Among the recommendations, cities can set a goal for solar usage, help residents finance solar power and put solar on government buildings.
“Cities are big energy users with lots of unutilized roof space suitable for solar panels,” said Hofmann. “Baltimore can continue leading the way and protect our environment by using as much of our solar potential as possible.”
Environment Maryland Research & Policy Center is a 501(c)(3) organization. We are dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives. For more information, visit http://www.environmentmarylandcenter.org.