Solar power is on the rise across America—increasing 200-fold in the United States since 2002—and major cities are helping to lead this clean energy revolution. Shining Cities: At the Forefront of America’s Solar Energy Revolution shows that cities from every region of the U.S. are driving solar development with strong public policies – reaping important benefits for the environment, public health, and the economy. By building local solar power, cities can keep more of their energy budget at home and create good local jobs.
California’s clean energy progress is due to forward-looking policies that are helping the state reduce its contribution to global warming, expand its use of local renewable energy sources, increase the reliability of electricity service, and control energy costs. In particular, net energy metering has been instrumental in the growth of California’s rooftop solar market. Net energy metering enables solar panel owners to earn fair compensation for benefits that they provide to other users of the electricity grid. Net energy metering is especially important for the residential solar market – and thus a key part of developing a more localized, reliable and efficient electricity system.
America’s solar energy revolution has been led by 12 states – the “Dazzling Dozen” – that have used public policies to open the door for solar energy and are reaping the rewards as a result. These 12 states – Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina and Vermont – possess strong policies that are enabling increasing numbers of homeowners, businesses, communities and utilities to “go solar.”
Environment California Research & Policy Center prepared this series of factsheets to provide information about local energy technologies that are well-suited to help California reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and achieve a clean energy future.
All across California, businesses, farms, government agencies, schools and nonprofits are demonstrating that action to reduce heat-trapping emissions can improve competitiveness and strengthen the bottom line. Energy efficiency measures and clean energy projects reduce waste, cut energy costs, limit exposure to fossil fuel price spikes, and attract environmentally aware customers.
Solar energy makes sense for California’s schools. This first-of-its-kind report presents case studies from 18 California school districts that have installed solar energy projects at nearly 200 schools combined, illustrating the environmental, economic and educational benefits of going solar in our schools.
California’s solar market is thriving. Ten years ago, solar panels atop roofs were a rarity. Today, solar is taking hold in cities across the state, from coastal metropolises to agricultural and industrial hubs in the Central Valley. In the past two years alone, the solar industry has installed more than 5,000 kilowatts of solar power in each of 10 different California cities.
California’s pioneering Million Solar Roofs Initiative is on pace to meet its goal of installing 3,000 megawatts of solar capacity by 2016, while also helping to reduce the cost of solar energy, creating thousands of green jobs throughout the state, and reducing air pollution.
By adopting a suite of clean energy policies at the local, state and federal levels, the United States could curb emissions of carbon dioxide from energy use by as much as 20 percent by 2020 and 34 percent by 2030 (compared with 2005 levels).