Baltimore, Maryland – Baltimore has more solar panels than most major Southern cities, ranking 5thamong metropolitan areas in the region analyzed in a new report. Baltimore could improve its ranking by adopting a bold goal for solar power installations, advocates said today.
“Building off of the great work of communities, if we establish a city-wide goal for solar installations,” said Aminah Zaghab, Advocate with Environment Maryland, “Baltimore could really start to shine when it comes to solar power.”
Jacksonville, Washington D.C., and Raleigh topped the list for most solar power in the South Atlantic according to Environment Maryland Research & Policy Center’s analysis, Shining Cities 2016: How Smart Local Policies Are Expanding Solar Power in America.
Plummeting costs, increasing public concern over global warming, and technological innovation have all played a role in spurring the growth of solar energy, which last year was enough to power 5.4 million American homes.
“We are proud to call Baltimore home and take pride in providing clean, affordable, renewable solar energy to our customers in this market and throughout the region. Over the past years, our installations in Baltimore City have more than doubled. We are excited that Baltimore, and the State of Maryland continue to encourage and support solar panel installations, and the jobs that come with them.” Mark Manthy, Solar Gaines
The report found cities at the vanguard of the nation’s solar boom, with the top 20 solar cities – representing just 0.1 percent of U.S. land area – accounting for 6 percent of U.S. solar photovoltaic capacity at the end of 2015.
As population centers, cities are home to ample rooftop space and large electricity markets. Through power purchase agreements, promoting community solar programs, and installing solar on government property, city governments can play a leading role in developing solar energy. Solar also provides new opportunities for the city and residents.
"As part of the rapidly growing solar industry, we are excited to have recently launched a solar job training program in Baltimore. This training is meeting the workforce needs of employers and serving as a pathway out of poverty for unemployed residents," said Eli Allen with Civic Works.”
The city of Baltimore for example, has formed groundbreaking cooperatives to boost adoption of solar power for communities. The efforts need increased support from state level policy, like a new Renewable Portfolio Standard, which would accelerate the state’s transition to renewable energy like solar.
“Baltimore has some of the worst air on the east coast because it still gets a large share of its electricity from aging, coal-fired power plants. The pollution from these plants worsens asthma and pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases. Expanding solar energy in Baltimore can help replace these dirty plants and improve the health of all Baltimore residents,” said Dr. Bartlett with Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility.
According to researchers who examined solar power installations in 64 American cities in nearly every state, Baltimore had enough solar capacity at the end of last year to power nearly 650 homes.
While solar power is growing in Maryland and throughout the nation, utility companies are campaigning intensely to increase fees for rooftop solar, which they see as a direct threat to their business model. Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court has also stalled the Clean Power Plan, an Obama administration initiative to cap carbon pollution from power plants and provide incentives for clean energy like solar.
Environment Maryland and other advocates urged cities to move forward with solar power for the health of the community, the economy and our environmental future.
“Cities have been at the forefront of environmental change for decades,” said Zaghab. “And there’s no reason for them to stop now. The polluters can’t change the fact that solar power makes sense for our climate, our health, and our wallets.”