Asheville, Raleigh and Charlotte highlighted in new report on solar power progress

Media Contacts
Drew Ball

Asheville leads as solar capacity continues to grow nationwide

Environment North Carolina Research and Policy Center

Asheville – Asheville is distinguished as a “Solar Star” for having a significant amount of installed solar energy capacity relative to other cities across the country, 89.5 watts per capita. The results are highlighted in the seventh edition of Shining Cities: The Top U.S. Cities for Solar Energy, a new report released today by Environment North Carolina Research & Policy Center. It is the most comprehensive survey available of installed solar capacity in major U.S. cities.

“The city of Asheville has consistently made commitments and investments that propelled clean energy development in the region. That’s resulted in cleaner air and clearer skies for Western North Carolina. ” said Drew Ball, Director with Environment North Carolina Research & Policy Center. “Asheville’s leadership on solar and commitment to renewable energy is too significant to go unrecognized in our report. Not only is ‘The Land of the Sky’ providing residents with clean, reliable power, but is also giving other cities an excellent example of how to make it happen.”

“The City has made a number of commitments over the years,” according to Julie Mayfield, Asheville City Council Member. “We created a joint task force with Duke Energy and the County which helped defeat the need for new fossil fuel infrastructure. City Council voted to moving our whole community to 100% clean energy and we were the first community in North Carolina to pass a climate emergency resolution”

But Asheville is not complacent in their pursuit for a clean energy future. “On Monday we are starting construction on our first on-site renewable energy project,” announced Bridget Herring, the City’s Energy Program Coordinator. “We are Installing a 57 kilowatt solar panel system on the canopy roof of the city transit station.”

North Carolina’s two largest cities made the list as well. Both Raleigh and Charlotte are highlighted as ‘Solar Builders.’ Of the 57 large cities surveyed and ranked by solar PV per capita, Raleigh ranks 40th with 23.43 watts per resident, and a total of 11 MW of total capacity. Charlotte ranks 47th with 15.78 watts per resident and a total of 13.76 MW of total capacity.

Beyond the findings in North Carolina, the report examined national solar power in major cities over the past seven years. The analysis found that of the 57 cities surveyed in all seven editions of this report, almost 90 percent more than doubled their total installed solar PV capacity between 2013 and 2019. These numbers show tremendous progress, but the continued implementation of key policies, like those outlined in Environment North Carolina Research & Policy Center’s Renewables on the Rise report, will be critical to keep clean energy growing.

“Transitioning to clean, renewable energy is more important than ever. Solar energy produces 90-95% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuel alternatives,” said Ball. “Using solar and other renewable energy sources means less air pollution, and while clean air to breathe is always important, the need is exacerbated by COVID-19.”