Washington, D.C. –The District of Columbia has more solar than most major South-Atlantic cities, ranking 2nd among metropolitan areas in the region analyzed in a new report. The solar stature of the city was owed largely to its program that requires a certain amount of solar energy and grants financial incentives to solar owners.
“Thanks to its forward thinking programs and our city leaders,” said Lindsey Mendelson, Fellow with Environment America,“ our report shows that D.C. really shines when it comes to solar power.”
Jacksonville, Washington D.C., and Raleigh topped the list for the most solar power installed the South-Atlantic region in the Environment America Research & Policy Center analysis, Shining Cities 2016: How Smart Local Policies Are Expanding Solar Power in America.
As population centers, cities are home to ample rooftop space and large electricity markets. Through power purchase agreements, promoting community solar programs, and installing solar on government property, city governments can play a leading role in developing solar energy.
“Clean power means clean air, a healthy planet, and a strong economy,” said Tommy Wells, Director of the District of Columbia’s Department of Energy and Environment. “We’re proud to continue our work to support and expand the use of solar power in the District as we work towards our Sustainable DC Plan goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.”
The report found cities at the vanguard of the nation’s solar boom, with the top 20 solar cities – representing just 0.1 percent of U.S. land area – accounting for 6 percent of U.S. solar photovoltaic capacity at the end of 2015.
Plummeting costs, increasing public concern over global warming, and technological innovation have all played a role in spurring the growth of solar energy, which last year was enough to power 5.4 million American homes.
"The solar industry is stronger than ever with the U.S. market projected to grow a staggering 119 percent this year as Americans make it abundantly clear that they want access to clean, reliable, affordable renewable energy," said Dan Whitten, vice president of communications for the Solar Energy Industries Association.
According to researchers who examined solar power installations in 64 American cities in nearly every state, Washington D.C. had enough solar capacity at the end of last year to power over 2,100 homes.
"As demand for clean energy continues to grow, we also see increased demand for a skilled, local workforce. GRID Alternatives is working to create a diverse solar economy, in which solar energy and good paying jobs are available to everyone, including those living in disadvantaged neighborhoods in the district,” said Nicole Steele, Executive Director of GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic.
The DC District Department of Environment also offers the Solar Advantage Plus program, which fully subsidizes the cost of installing solar PV systems for eligible low-income residents in the district..
While solar power is growing in the district and throughout the nation, utility companies are campaigning intensely to increase fees for rooftop solar, which they see as a direct threat to their business model.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court has also stalled the Clean Power Plan, an Obama administration initiative to cap carbon pollution from power plants and provide incentives for clean energy like solar.
Environment America and other advocates urged cities to move forward with solar power development in spite of these attacks.
“Cities have been at the forefront of environmental change for decades,” said Lindsey Mendelson. “And there’s no reason for them to stop now. The polluters can’t change the fact that solar power makes sense for our climate, our health, and our wallets.”
For rankings, methodology, and full report visit: environmentamericacenter.org
Environment America Research & Policy Center is a federation of state-based environmental advocacy organizations bringing people together for a cleaner, greener, healthier future. www.EnvironmentAmericaCenter.org