BOSTON — With millions of available rooftops, rising public demand for renewable energy, and much-improved storage technology, America’s cities are resolving local air pollution and power generation issues by switching to solar power. Today, Environment America Research and Policy Center unveiled a set of actions that cities can take to help residents gain access to and maximize solar energy, in a new guide, Ten Ways Your City Can Go Solar.
“We have so much to gain from going solar — from providing cleaner air that improves public health to lowering emissions that adversely impact our climate,” said Emma Searson, Go Solar Campaign Coordinator with Environment America. “City officials should take a close look at how they can use all of their available tools and infrastructure to lead locally in the transition to clean, renewable energy.”
According to an upcoming report from Environment America Research and Policy Center, at the end of 2017, the top 20 solar-producing U.S. cities accounted for 5 percent of the country’s solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity, though they only represented 0.1 percent of the land area. Together, these 20 cities are capable of generating nearly 2 gigawatts (GW) of solar power — enough to power almost 400,000 homes. One common feature among leading solar cities is a foundation of pro-solar public policies. The guide released today outlines ten programs and policies that cities can choose from and adapt to take the next step on going solar in their community.
“During our campaign, we’ve spoken with dozens of elected officials and municipal staff from cities large and small, red and blue, West Coast to Southeast, and everywhere in between,” said Searson. “Across the board, the vast majority envision a future powered by clean, renewable energy. This guide will help to set that vision into action.”
Environment America also recommends that communities work with technical assistance programs, such as SolSmart, a program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Currently, 187 communities representing 54 million Americans have received SolSmart designations by making their cities more solar-friendly.
“Local governments are uniquely positioned to engage and educate their community about local solar energy goals, financing methods, and consumer protection resources,” said Nick Kasza, from the National League of Cities, who has worked extensively with SolSmart. “Cities can also lead by example, installing solar energy on municipal buildings such as fire stations or libraries.”
On April 4, Environment America Research and Policy Center will release its fifth annual Shining Cities report. The report ranks America’s largest cities based on installed solar PV capacity and provides an analysis of the policies driving progress in those that top the charts. For a preview of the report please email Bret Fanshaw, Go Solar Campaign Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.