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Bret Fanshaw,
Environment America

US cities moving forward on solar power

For Immediate Release

SAN DIEGO, CA - There’s a new number one solar-powered city in America. San Diego has replaced Los Angeles as the top city for installed solar, according to an analysis released today by Environment America Research and Policy Center.

“San Diego is setting the standard for other cities across the country when it comes to protecting our environment and creating a cleaner future,” said San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. “This new ranking is a testament to the many San Diego residents and businesses harnessing our natural resources as we march toward our goal of using 100 percent renewable energy throughout the city.”

The report, Shining Cities: How Smart Local Policies Are Expanding Solar Power in America, shows that after San Diego, the cities of Los Angeles, Honolulu, San Jose, Phoenix and Indianapolis earn the top spots for installed solar in 2016. A number of smaller cities ranked in the top 20 cities for solar installed per capita, including Burlington, VT, New Orleans, LA and Newark, NJ.

“By using solar power in cities across the country, we can reduce pollution and improve public health for everyday Americans,” said Bret Fanshaw with Environment America Research and Policy Center, report co-author. “To realize these benefits, city leaders should continue to embrace a big vision for solar on rooftops throughout their communities.”

Solar power is booming nationwide. The top 20 cities for solar installed in America now have as much solar as the entire country had in 2010. In 2016, solar was the number one new source of energy capacity installed in the United States.

“Cities are recognizing that clean, local and affordable energy just makes sense,” said Abi Bradford with Frontier Group, report co-author. “For the fourth year in a row, our research shows that this is happening, not necessarily in cities with the most sun, but also in those with smart policies in place to support this shift.”

The report comes amid rollbacks by the Trump administration of Obama-era climate policies designed to act on climate change and encourage renewable energy.

Mayors from around the country touted their city’s efforts to embrace solar energy.

“Solar on thousands of homes and government buildings is helping Honolulu reach our sustainable energy goals,” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell of Honolulu, which ranks number one for solar energy per capita. “Sending money overseas to ship oil and coal to our island that is bathed in sun all year round just doesn’t make sense anymore. We are on the front lines of sea level rise and other climate change effects and we must continue reducing our use of fossil fuels. Solar will continue being a big part of the solution along with waste-to-energy, wind, and other renewable sources.”

“I am proud to see Indianapolis lead the nation as the fourth-ranked city for solar energy per capita, and we are committed to continuing our leadership by streamlining permitting processes and implementing new and innovative ways to encourage solar energy growth,” said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett. “Advancing solar energy in Indianapolis benefits not only our air and water, and the health of our community – it creates high-wage, local jobs and stimulates economic development. I look forward to seeing more solar installed on rooftops across Indianapolis this year, and into the future.”

“The city of Las Vegas has long been a leader in sustainability, from promoting green buildings and recycling to the use of solar energy,” said Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman. “In 2016 the city reached its goal of becoming 100 percent reliant on only renewable energy to power our government buildings, streetlights and facilities. The city will continue to build community to make life better today and for future generations.”

“We’re proud to be on the list of U.S. cities that are open for solar business,” said Ted Wheeler, Mayor of Portland, Ore. “One hundred percent of the electricity we use for City operations is powered from renewable sources, including solar - and we continue to install solar on our own facilities to the greatest extent possible. It’s important to Portland’s future that the State of Oregon continue its forward-thinking policies and market-moving incentives.”

“Riverside residents and business owners have embraced solar as a smart way to harness the power of the sun,” Riverside (Ca.) Mayor Rusty Bailey said. “From the individual solar units on homes and businesses to the solar farm on top of a former landfill, Riverside is proud to be a leader in Southern California in developing clean energy. Our locally-owned Riverside Public Utilities and its Green Riverside efforts have played a major role.”

"Sustainability must not be just a goal on paper, it must be achieved," said Ethan Strimling, Mayor of Portland, Maine. "That is why it is so critical to not only develop actionable, informed and measurable plans to ramp up solar power, but to commit to their implementation."

See the report for a full list of rankings.

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Environment America Research and Policy Center is a national federation of state based organizations dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces.

Frontier Group provides information and ideas to help citizens build a cleaner, healthier, fairer and more democratic America.