New York City among region’s solar leaders

Media Contacts
Heather Leibowitz

Environment New York Research & Policy Center

New York, NY – New York has more solar panels than most major American cities, ranking 7th among dozens of metropolitan areas according to a new report released today by Environment New York Research & Policy Center. Buffalo also made an admirable showing and ranks 34th for total solar panels in the nation.

The report comes as advocates push the state to adopt a 100 percent renewable energy goal, and officials consider ways to expand solar to more residents in New York City.

“By using solar power here in New York City, we can reduce pollution and improve public health for everyday New Yorker,” said Heather Leibowitz, Director of Environment New York. “To realize these benefits, city leaders should continue to embrace a big vision for solar on rooftops throughout the community.”

The report, Shining Cities: How Smart Local Policies Are Expanding Solar Power in America, ranks New York City ahead of cities like San Antonio, Las Vegas, and San Francisco for amount of installed solar. In particular, New York City has helped to grow solar by opening the solar energy market to apartment dwellers and others unable to install solar panels on their own roofs through Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) that allow residents to purchase shares of solar power from other electric utility accounts.

The figures in the report reflect the recent growth of solar across the country. The top 20 cities listed in the report have nearly as much solar today as the entire country had installed in 2010. In 2016, solar was the number one new source of energy installed in America.

The Solar Foundation just released new data showing there are 10,815 people employed in solar in the Tri-State Area.

Cities can push solar forward in a number of ways, according to the report. Among the recommendations, cities can set a goal for solar usage, help residents finance solar power and put solar on government buildings.

The report also shows that while New York City is a solar leader, it currently only uses just 9 percent of its solar potential, according to data from the US Department of Energy.

Despite that growth, more can be done in New York. The New York Legislature can pass the Climate and Community Protection Act, which would set legally binding clean energy and climate goals. The bill has broad support from environmental groups, and establishes a path towards a 100% clean, renewable energy.

“Cities are big energy users with lots of unutilized roof space suitable for solar panels,” said Leibowitz. “New York City can continue leading the way and protect our environment by using as much of our solar potential as possible.”