Environment New Mexico Moving Ahead to Get Local Governments to Go Big on Solar

Environment New Mexico

Albuquerque, NM – On the heels of the Albuquerque City Council adopting a bold goal to make the City a leader in solar energy, Environment New Mexico announced a push to get cities and local governments across the state and country to make sizable commitments to capturing the power of the sun.  The “Shining Cities” campaign will engage and mobilize thousands of members, volunteers and the growing ranks of stakeholders who recognize the tremendous environmental and economic benefits to convince local governments to expand their use of pollution-free solar power.   

“New Mexico’s cities are full of untapped potential to go solar on our homes, schools, business and public buildings,” said Sanders Moore, director of Environment New Mexico. “I am pleased that the Albuquerque City Councilors unanimously voted to embrace solar energy and move our city and state forward. Local leaders can help their communities reap the benefits of solar by setting ambitious goals for generating solar power and creating smart programs to reach those goals.”

Cities are already contributing to the success of solar. A recent report by Environment New Mexico Research & Policy Center showed that in 2015, the 20 cities with the most solar represent just 0.1 percent of U.S. land area, but account for 6 percent of U.S. solar photovoltaic capacity. With many rooftops, a large demand for power and a desire to reduce pollution while creating local jobs; solar represents a big opportunity for New Mexico’s cities.

“I was proud to work with Environment New Mexico to move solar energy forward in the city of Albuquerque and hope that other cities follow the lead to repower our country with clean, renewable energy,” said Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis.

Nationally, the Environment New Mexico is partnering with Environment America on the “Shining Cities” campaign to get at least 20 local governments to embrace big solar targets by the end of next year, including here in New Mexico.

The City of Albuquerque currently gets about 3 percent of its electricity from solar energy. Upon reaching the goal set by the City Council, the City could save approximately $3.6 million each year at current electric rates, with savings likely to increase with ever increasing energy costs.

“The solar industry is growing in New Mexico and across the country. Creating new jobs at a rate of about 20 percent per year, solar now employs 2,000 New Mexicans and about 200,000 nationwide. The work of Environment New Mexico has been instrumental to that growth and we’re excited about their efforts to continue moving cities to adopt solar power.”

Solar energy continues to experience record growth in the United States. The U.S. now has twelve times the amount of solar we had in 2010; hosting over 31 gigawatts of installed solar capacity, the equivalent to powering 6.2 million American homes with solar. After decades of progress, the U.S. reached 1 million solar installations earlier this year and the industry expects to reach 2 million installations in just two years.

“We can power the entire nation with renewable energy,” said Moore. “Local governments can follow Albuquerque’s lead and tap the heat and power of the sun. We’re excited to continue our work with local government to create cleaner, thriving communities by embracing pollution-free solar energy.”