New Report: Highlights Solar Energy in Richmond and Other Major U.S. Cities

Media Contacts
Sarah Bucci

Environment Virginia

New Report: Highlights Solar Energy in Richmond and Other Major U.S. Cities

Richmond, VA – Today, Environment Virginia released 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 Richmond looking on the bright side,” said Sarah Bucci, campaign director with Environment Virginia.  

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.

The report found that Richmond currently has 1 MW of cumulative solar PV capacity and is ranked 33rd in the report for the amount of solar capacity per capita.

“Solar power is a clean and sustainable form of power and increasing the amount of alternative energy sources like solar will help our community enhance its resiliency,” said Alicia Zatcoff, Sustainability Manager for the City of Richmond.

With the cost of solar coming down, there’s growing awareness of solar power as a mainstream energy solution with widespread benefits for our health, our economy and the environment.  

“Solar power is booming across the country and cities are at the forefront,” said Bucci. “We applaud the City of Richmond and institutions such as Virginia Commonwealth University for investing in solar power. The progress we are seeing here should give us the confidence we can do more.” 

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— Virginia has 1900 solar jobs, growing by 157% since last year, according to the National Solar Jobs Census 2013 from the Solar Foundation.

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. 

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, such as the City of Richmond’s RVAgreen Sustainability Plan that sets a broad policy for increasing the use of alternative energy sources throughout the community. 
  • 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 bulk purchasing and educational campaigns to help neighbors “go solar” together.
  • In Richmond, the City is a partner organization of the Richmond Regional Energy Alliance (RREA) that has just launched SolarizeRVA, a bulk solar buying program for homeowners in the Richmond region.
  • 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.

“We are bringing solar power to the Richmond community, neighbor-to-neighbor, said Bill Greenleaf, executive director of the RREA. “By combing our collective buying power and educating residents on the benefits of solar, SolarizeRVA has the potential to impact how we produce energy.”

“We’ve made progress here in Richmond, but we’ve just begun,” said Bucci. “By committing to bold goals and putting strong policies in place, we can make Richmond shine as a national leader and reap the environmental and economic benefits of the solar revolution.”

This is a Virginia Acts on Climate event to showcase how local governments, businesses and organizations are reducing emissions and the benefits these actions have for local communities.


Environment Virginia is a state-wide, citizen-funded, environmental advocacy organization working for clean air, clean water and open space.

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