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Bret Fanshaw,
Environment Arizona
Elizabeth Ouzts,
Environment Arizona

Phoenix ranks 3rd for solar power in nation

For Immediate Release

Phoenix, AZ – Phoenix has more solar panels than most major cities, ranking 3rd among metropolitan areas in the region analyzed in a new report.

“Thanks to its forward-thinking programs,” said Jenifer Wong, Campaign Organizer with Environment Arizona, “Our report shows that Phoenix really shines when it comes to solar power.”

Los Angeles, San Diego, and Phoenix topped the list for most solar power in the Environment Arizona Research & Policy Center 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.

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.

According to researchers who examined solar power installations in 64 American cities in nearly every state, Phoenix had enough solar capacity at the end of last year to power over 20,500 homes.

"Latinos strongly support solar energy,” said Michael Nazario, Lead Organizer with CHISPA Arizona, “We know it as a critical solution that we must deploy to combat the everlasting consequences of climate change and burning fossil fuels. That is why it is especially rewarding and brings a breath of fresh air to the energy policy discussion in Arizona to acknowledge the City of Phoenix's leadership on Solar and the Environment, an example all elected officials in our state should follow."

While solar power is growing in Arizona 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.

Arizona’s largest utilities—APS, TEP, and UNS Electric—are no exception. Proposals to eliminate net metering, increase the basic monthly service charge, and introduce a demand charge are all major roadblocks to solar energy.

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 Arizona and other advocates urged cities to move forward with solar power development in spite of these attacks.

“Cities have been at the forefront of environmental change for decades,” said Wong. “And there’s no reason for them to stop now. Polluters can’t change the fact that solar power makes sense for our climate, our health, and our wallets.”

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Environment Arizona Research & Policy Center is a statewide advocacy organization bringing people together for a cleaner, greener, healthier future. www.environmentarizonacenter.org