Albuquerque, NM – On the heels of a major solar energy victory in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Environment America today announced the launch of a nationwide campaign to convince cities and local governments to generate much more of their power from the sun. The “Shining Cities” campaign will engage and mobilize thousands of Environment America members, volunteers and supporters to convince local governments to expand the use of pollution-free solar power.
This week, the campaign won a major victory in Albuquerque, where the city council unanimously voted to generate 25 percent of electricity used by city facilities from solar power by 2025. Environment New Mexico, the state organization driving the campaign, successfully mobilized constituents to make the case for the tremendous environmental and economic benefits of locally-generated clean energy.
“I was proud to work with Environment New Mexico to move solar energy forward in the City of Albuquerque,” said Albuquerque City Councilman Pat Davis, a sponsor of the solar resolution. “I hope that other cities follow our lead and repower the country with clean, renewable energy.”
The City of Albuquerque currently gets around 3 percent of its electricity from solar energy. Upon reaching the goal set by the city council, Albuquerque could save approximately $3.6 million each year at current electric rates.
“When cities like Albuquerque lead by example on solar, even more will follow,” said Bret Fanshaw, Environment America’s Solar Program Coordinator. “On the heels of this victory, we know that our Shining Cities campaign can spark a solar revolution in cities and counties across America. We urge local leaders to set ambitious goals for generating solar power and create smart programs to reach those goals.”
The Shining Cities campaign aims to get at least 20 localities to go big on solar by the end of 2017. This fall, Environment America and its state affiliates have set their sights on half a dozen cities and counties in Georgia, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington State.
The effort builds on the momentum of dozens of successful campaigns by Environment America to convince local and state governments to adopt strong solar policies and programs, including victories in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Athens, GA; Austin, TX; Tempe, AZ; Milwaukie, OR and Lake Oswego, OR; on top of policy wins in more than a dozen states over the past decade.
A recent report by Environment America Research & Policy Center showed that in 2015, the 20 leading solar cities represent just 0.1 percent of U.S. land area, but account for 6 percent of U.S. solar photovoltaic capacity. Solar energy is a major opportunity for American cities, where there is no shortage of available roof space. By increasing solar energy development, cities can generate power locally, reduce pollution, improve service reliability, create local jobs and generate local economic activity.
Solar energy continues to experience record growth in the United States. Since 2010, the number of solar panels installed in the United States has increased twelve times over. The nation is now home to more than 31 gigawatts of installed solar capacity, generating enough energy to power 6.2 million American homes. The U.S. solar industry hit a major milestone earlier this year when it reached 1 million solar installations – a milestone that took decades to reach. But now, with all of the momentum it has built, the industry expects to double that and reach 2 million installations in just two more years.
“We can power the entire nation with renewable energy,” said Fanshaw. “Local governments can start by tapping the heat and power of the sun. We’re excited work with local governments to create cleaner, thriving communities by embracing pollution-free solar energy.”
Environment America is the national federation of statewide, citizen-based advocacy organizations working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.