Seattle – With solar energy on the rise across Washington and the country, Environment Washington announced the launch of a push to get cities and local governments to make sizable commitments to capturing the power of the sun. The “Shining Cities” campaign will engage and mobilize hundreds of members, volunteers and the growing ranks of stakeholders who recognize the tremendous environmental and economic benefits to convince local governments to expand their use of pollution-free solar power.
“Washington’s cities are full of untapped potential to go solar on our homes, schools, business and public buildings,” said Bruce Speight, Executive Director of Environment Washington. “Local leaders can help their communities reap the benefits of solar by setting ambitious goals for generating solar power and creating smart programs to reach those goals.”
Cities are already contributing to the success of solar. A recent report by Environment Washington Research & Policy Center showed that in 2015, the 20 cities with the most solar represent just 0.1 percent of U.S. land area, but account for 6 percent of U.S. solar photovoltaic capacity. With many rooftops, a large demand for power and a desire to reduce pollution while creating local jobs; solar represents a big opportunity for Washington’s cities.
“Solar power is pollution-free, virtually unlimited, has no fuel costs and can be installed much faster than other options” said Speight. “As the urgency of environmental problems grow and the price of solar declines, it simply makes sense to go solar”
Nationally, Environment Washington is partnering with Environment America on the “Shining Cities” campaign to get at least 20 local governments to embrace big solar targets by the end of next year, including here in Washington.
The effort builds off the momentum of dozens of successful campaigns by Environment America to convince local and state governments to adopt strong solar policies and programs, including victories in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Athens, GA; Cincinnati, Lansing, MI; Austin, TX; Milwaukie, OR and Lake Oswego, OR, as well as successful campaigns for state level renewable energy policy in nearly 20 states over the past decade.
Solar energy continues to experience record growth in the United States. The U.S. now has twelve times the amount of solar we had in 2010; hosting over 31 gigawatts of installed solar capacity, the equivalent to powering 6.2 million American homes with solar. After decades of progress, the U.S. reached 1 million solar installations earlier this year and the industry expects to reach 2 million installations in just two years.
In Washington, we have the technical potential to produce 21 times as much electricity from solar power as the state consumes each year, and in the past four years, we have quadrupled total solar capacity in the state. In addition, the solar industry already employs more than 2,000 workers in Washington State with the potential to add many more with more solar investment.
“We know it will take the involvement and leadership of local elected officials, community members and others to get this done; we’re excited to take on this challenge,” concluded Speight.
Environment Washington is a statewide, citizen based environmental advocacy organization working for clean air, clean water and open space. For more information: www.environmentwashington.org.