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Philadelphia trails other cities on solar power

Study shows need for increased state and municipal investment in solar power
For Immediate Release

[Philadelphia, PA] – Philadelphia trails dozens of major American cities in solar power, ranking 26th for installed solar capacity in the nation and 41st for per capita solar power, according to a new analysis from the PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center. The new study shows the need for stronger state policies and a dynamic partnership between local and state government—including the solar initiative proposed in Gov. Wolf’s recent budget announcement.

PennEnvironment was joined by John Dougherty, Business Manager for IBEW Local 98, and John Hanger, Gov. Tom Wolf’s Secretary of Policy and Planning.

Philadelphia could improve its ranking by aggressively working to achieve its goal of 20,000 solar roofs by 2020, approved by the city council last March, and by adoption of Gov. Wolf’s proposal to jumpstart Pennsylvania’s solar energy programs as offered in his state budget, advocates said today. 

Cities can be big stars in our transition to clean energy,” said David Masur, Executive Director with PennEnvironment. “And we know that Philadelphia has the potential to be among the best. 

Los Angeles, San Diego, and Phoenix topped the list for most solar power installations in the PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center analysis, Shining Cities: Harnessing the Benefits of Solar Energy in America.

Solar power is on the rise across the country, with another panel or project installed every three minutes last year. Plummeting costs, increasing public concern over global warming and energy independence, and technological innovation have all played a role in spurring the growth of the pollution-free energy source.

As population centers, cities are home to large electricity markets, and can also have an important influence on the way grids are powered. As a long-time supporter of solar energy, Gov. Wolf has made supporting more renewable energy a cornerstone of his recent budget proposal.

“This report highlights the need to continue to invest in solar and other renewable energy sources, both to keep our cities healthy and sustainable and to attract good paying green jobs,” stated Gov. Wolf’s Secretary of Policy and Planning John Hanger.

According to researchers who examined solar power installations in 70 American cities in nearly every state, Philadelphia had enough solar energy online at the end of last year to power less than 1,000 homes.

Philadelphians and Pennsylvanians from all walks of life want a clean environment, and more solar power,” said Masur. “It’s a triple win: good for our environment, good for consumers, and good for job creation.”

While solar power is growing in Pennsylvania and throughout the nation, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh lag behind other cities in the Northeast, including New York, Boston and Newark, N.J.   Advocates asserted that with a leadership from state and local leaders and the right policies and programs, Pennsylvania cities can catch up and become leaders, including: 

  1. Urging state legislators to support clean energy initiatives being proposed by the Wolf Administration;  
  2. Protecting crucial solar programs, like net metering;
  3. Updating Pennsylvania’s solar laws that currently create instability within the Commonwealth’s solar tax incentive programs, like requiring solar energy to be produced in Pennsylvania in order to receive the state’s solar tax credits;
  4. Using the Obama Clean Power Plan—the regulatory proposal to limit global warming pollution from coal-fired power plants—as an opportunity to stimulate clean power like solar energy to meet the reductions called for in the Plan.

“With prices going down and concern about global warming going up, solar power is growing rapidly in our state,” said Masur. “We need state and local leaders to maintain and defend programs that policies that allow solar to shine.”