BOSTON - Mayors representing 300 cities across the U.S. have signed on to a letter, released today by Environment America Research & Policy Center, calling for a future powered by more clean renewable solar power. The group of “Mayors for Solar Energy” committed to this cause is bipartisan and represents cities of all sizes spanning all 50 states.
“Solar energy is being embraced nationwide at a pace we once thought to be impossible, and America’s cities are at the forefront of this progress,” said Ben Sonnega, Environment America Research & Policy Center’s Go Solar campaign associate. “Local officials are unlocking the power of the sun by taking advantage of millions of available rooftops and broad public support to bring cleaner, greener and more resilient energy to their communities.”
Mayors involved in this effort are not only signing on to this letter, but are also speaking publicly about the importance of solar power. For example, Orlando, Fla., Mayor Buddy Dyer recognizes the wide range of benefits provided by this form of renewable energy.
“Solar energy presents a bright opportunity for our city to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, improve air quality and public health,” Dyer said. “It also helps diversify our local economy, create quality jobs in the green industry, and address one of the most pressing challenges facing humanity -- the climate change crisis.''
Even in cities where there isn't as much annual sunshine as Florida, like Rockford, Ill., the benefits of going solar are clear. "I see tremendous interest in the potential of solar energy meeting our sustainability goals and energy needs,” said Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara. “With that in mind, we’ve embraced the opportunity to review our processes and streamline solar permitting.”
For its efforts, Rockford has earned a Gold Solsmart designation, which is awarded to cities, counties and regional organizations that make it faster, easier and more affordable to go solar.
Other municipal leaders recognize that locally sourcing solar power is not only a win for the health of their constituents, but it’s also smart governance.
"Renewable energy, such as solar, is a better energy source because we don’t have to pay other countries to get it,” said Mayor Jim Brainard of Carmel, Ind. “Even more importantly, it will help keep our air clean and reduce the cost and suffering of those with lung diseases.”
Clarkston, Ga., Mayor Ted Terry echoes the importance of working locally to protect the health of all residents.
"In Clarkston, we are committed to transitioning our city to a 100 percent clean energy future," Terry said. "Solar energy gives us the type of clean renewable power that can free Georgia residents from dirty, polluting energy sources of the past and improve the resilience of our grid. It's time we move our country towards a more responsible and sustainable future, and this means utilizing the endless power of the sun."
The Mayors for Solar Energy project goes beyond the letter itself. It also includes resources such as the Ten Ways Your Community Can Go Solar policy toolkit and webinar trainings to help cities adopt more renewable energy.
“Mayors for Solar Energy is proof that regardless of geography, demographics or political affiliation, local leaders understand how beneficial solar can be for a wide array of communities,” Sonnega said. “The future of energy will be clean and close to home, and these mayors represent the first wave of leaders who will bring the benefits of solar to communities coast-to-coast.”
Environment America Research & Policy Center is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We work to protect the places we love, advance the environmental values we share, and win real results for our environment. Environment America Research & Policy Center is part of The Public Interest Network, which runs organizations committed to our vision of a better world, a set of core values, and a strategic approach to getting things done.