COLUMBUS – Today, Environment Ohio was joined at the Department of Fleet Management Facility by Fleet Operations Manager Bill Burns, to release a new report, “Shining Cities: At the Forefront of America’s Solar Energy Revolution.” The report provides a first-of-its-kind comparative look at the growth of solar power in major American cities.
“Cities are the focal point of this solar energy revolution and that has Columbus looking on the bright side,” said Ragan Davis, with Environment Ohio.
The report found that there is more than 200 times as much solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed in the U.S. today compared to 2002, much of that in America’s cities. The top 20 cities account for 7 percent of the installed photovoltaic solar, while occupying only 0.1 percent of the land area.
“Solar power is booming across the country and cities are at the forefront,” said Davis. “The progress we are seeing here and around the country should give us the confidence to do more.”
With the cost of solar coming down, there is growing awareness of solar power as a mainstream energy solution with widespread benefits for our health, our economy and the environment.
“We are proud to host Environment Ohio’s release of “Shining Cities” report at our Fleet Management Facility. This site is home to the largest municipal roof mounted solar energy system in all of Ohio”, said Mayor Michael B. Coleman, “Not only are the panels producing green power, they are also saving the City money. Our electric bills are 18% lower than in previous years.”
The report highlighted the benefits of solar energy, including:
- Solar energy avoids pollution—Pollution-free energy from the sun reduces air pollution that contributes to urban smog and global warming. It also helps save the massive amount of water that’s normally consumed during the cooling of fossil-fuel-burning power plants.
- Solar energy protects consumers— Since solar has no fuel costs, it can protect us from the rising cost of fossil fuels.
- Solar energy helps the economy— Ohio has 3,800 solar jobs, growing by 31% since last year.
“Investments in solar energy will only help us meet our energy needs now and in the future,” said Congresswoman Joyce Beatty. “Additionally, it will reduce pollution, protect consumers and potentially spur the local economy. I look forward to continuing to monitor the progress of solar advancements as it assists Ohio in meeting its energy, environmental and economic goals.”
The top 20 solar cities in this report have more solar power within their city limits than was installed in the entire U.S. just six years ago.
“Solar is clean, its local, and it’s a symbol of the direction we should be headed on energy,” said House Democratic Leader Tracy Maxwell Heard. “By ramping up solar, we can reduce pollution, while creating local jobs in our communities.”
The report pointed to policies that encourage investment in solar PV installations, which have been adopted by local leaders in solar cities.
City leaders can set ambitious and achievable goals and citizens and businesses can work with local governments to meet them. Cities can lead by example by putting solar on public buildings such as the City of Columbus’ Fleet Management Building.
- Cities can adopt policies to advance solar power in their communities, including tax incentives, low interest loan programs and solar-friendly zoning and building codes. Cities can also run “Solarize” programs that use funding incentives and educational campaigns to help neighbors “go solar” together; like the Green Columbus Fund.
- City leaders can work with state governments to ensure that they have strong programs to expand solar, including renewable energy standards, solar carve-outs or feed-in tariffs, net metering and community solar programs.
- City leaders can also demand a strong partnership with the federal government to ensure that federal incentives such as tax credits are continued. And that federal programs, such as the Solar America’s Cities and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant programs continue to provide support and technical assistance to cities seeking to expand solar.
“We’ve made progress here in Columbus. But we’ve just begun,” said Davis. “By committing to bold goals and putting strong policies in place, we can make Columbus shine as a national leader and reap the environmental and economic benefits of the solar revolution.”