New Report Highlights Solar Energy in Manchester and Other Major U.S. Cities

Media Contacts
Madeline Page

Environment New Hampshire

Click here to download a copy of Shining Cities: At the Forefront of America’s Solar Energy Revolution

Today, Environment New Hampshire released a new report, “Shining Cities:  At the Forefront of America’s Solar Energy Revolution.” The report provides a first-of-its-kind comparative look at the growth of solar power in major American cities.

“Cities are the focal point of this solar energy revolution and that has Manchester looking on the bright side,” said Madeline Page, Federal Field Associate, with Environment New Hampshire. The report ranks Manchester 28th for the amount of solar per capita (and 47th cumulatively) among 57 ranked metros, calling the city a “solar builder” in comparison to other cities from “beginners” to “solar stars.” 

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 top 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 Page.  “The progress we are seeing here and around the country should give us the confidence we can do more.”  

With the cost of solar coming down, there’s growing awareness of solar power as a mainstream energy solution with widespread benefits for our health, our economy and the environment.   

“New Hampshire has a bright solar future now that community solar is an option for every homeowner, business, municipality or school to participate in — regardless of their income level, ability to finance a project or their bond rating,” said Andrew Keller, founder of “Community Solar is for everybody and New Hampshire has created a solar road map to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels by developing small scale distributed generation all around our beautiful state.”

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 fossil-fuel-burning power plants.
  • 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— New Hampshire has 860 solar jobs, growing by 68.6% since last year.

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 six years ago.

The report pointed to policies that encourage investment in solar PV installations, which have been adopted by local leaders in solar cities:

  • 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 the solar panels installed on the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.
  • 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.  
  • City leaders can work with state governments 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. One such example, group net metering, which was passed into law last year, will allow consumers to reap the benefits of solar without their own array through community solar projects like
  • 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.

“We’ve made progress here in Manchester. But we’ve just begun,” said Page. “By committing to bold goals and putting strong policies in place, we can make Manchester, and cities across New Hampshire shine as a national leaders and reap the environmental and economic benefits of the solar revolution.”