April 21, 2017 — Good news on the eve of the 47th Earth Day.
Just in time for the 47th Earth Day – which arrives on Saturday – the Boston-based advocacy group Environment America has announced that New York City ranks seventh among U.S. cities for the greatest amount of installed solar power.
“Last year, solar power had its best year ever, nearly doubling its previous annual record from 2015 and surpassing one million solar installations nationwide,” solar program director Bret Fanshaw writes on the Environment America blog. “It became the number one new energy source installed in America, outshining traditional sources of power like coal, gas, and oil for the largest share of new energy.”
Much of solar energy’s recent surge is due to the changing solar economics – declining hardware costs coupled with abundant incentives and tax breaks, all of it fueled by the growing appeal of renewable energy in the face of ever-more-evident climate change. One innovative program in New York City is making it possible for small co-ops and condos to install solar roof panels with zero up-front investment.
The top 20 solar cities today produce more energy from the sun than the entire nation produced in 2010, Fanshaw notes. The impact is economic as well as environmental. New data shows also that nationally more than 260,000 Americans hold jobs where the majority of their time is dedicated to solar energy.
The only dark note is the Trump administration’s plan to dismantle the Clean Power Plan and emphasize fossil-fuel extraction, while reversing Obama-era environmental regulations and repudiating the Paris Agreement intended to fight climate change. Fanshaw dubs the Trump administration’s environmental policies “unfortunate and, frankly, wrong.”
“In the absence of federal leadership,” Fanshaw concludes, “states and cities will need to pick up the slack.”
Here, as of 2016, are the 10 U.S. cities with the most solar-energy installations: San Diego, Los Angeles, Honolulu, San Jose, Phoenix, Indianapolis, New York City, San Antonio, Albuquerque, and Las Vegas.
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