Raleigh lagged behind other major U.S. cities in solar power installations over the last two years according to the eighth edition of Environment North Carolina Research & Policy Center’s report Shining Cities: The Top U.S. Cities for Solar Energy. The city ranked 42nd nationwide for total installed solar energy capacity (per capita).
“Despite Raleigh’s slowing solar growth compared to its peers, there is still a massive opportunity for us to harness the power of the sun,” said Krista Early, Advocate with Environment North Carolina Research & Policy Center. “Progress like the solar farm on the convention center shows us that we can improve, but Raleigh can and should do better. As we celebrate the 52nd Earth Day and look for ways we can do our part to protect the planet this week, our leaders should set their sights on helping solar power thrive here in Raleigh and in North Carolina.”
“Slowly but surely, we’ve been moving in the right direction by investing in alternatives to fossil fuels, like solar energy,” said North Carolina Senator Wiley Nickel. “Clean energy legislation can help stop the increasing damage that fossil fuels are doing to our environment while green jobs can be an economic driver, creating diverse, new employment opportunities across the state. It’s time for us to fully invest in this opportunity to bring prosperity and growth to our state.”
“Environment North Carolina’s report is a call of action to do more and, in the city of Raleigh, we are taking seriously our commitment to combat and respond to the effect of climate change to make our community more resilient,” said Raleigh Council member Patrick Buffkin. “This convention center facility is a great example. It’s a LEED certified building that reduces our carbon impact and the solar facility on the roof that reduces our energy consumption.”
Beyond the findings in North Carolina, this edition of the survey tracked data through December 2021, finding that the United States now has 121.4 gigawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity installed. That’s enough solar energy to power more than 23 million homes. Additionally, the report found that 15 major U.S. cities recorded a tenfold increase in their solar capacity between 2014 and 2022.
Nationally, Honolulu placed first for solar energy capacity per capita, while Los Angeles finished No. 1 in total solar energy capacity installed. Leaders in per capita solar capacity by region were: Honolulu in the Pacific region; Las Vegas in the Mountain region; Indianapolis in the North Central region; San Antonio in the South Central region; Washington, D.C., in the South Atlantic region; and Burlington, Vermont, in the Northeast region.
Regionally, Raleigh placed 9th in the South Atlantic in per capita solar energy capacity.
These numbers tell the story of progress driven by pro-solar policies, many of which are outlined in the report. Some of those include: having our local leaders choose to use a streamlined online permitting process like the SolarAPP+, having our state leaders commit to 100% renewable energy, and provide rooftop solar owners with fair compensation for the clean electricity that they share with their neighbors as well as encouraging Congress to extend the Solar Investment Tax Credit. It’s actions like these that will be critical to making sure that we catch up with our peers here across the country and ensure a cleaner, healthier and more resilient future for our North Carolinian communities – powered by abundant, renewable energy from the sun.
“It is clear to see that our leaders are really taking the initiative on investing in solar power for our cities and counties like Wake county and Raleigh,” said Early. “This report shows that North Carolina can and should do more to catch up to our peers across the country and bring a cleaner and healthier future to North Carolina.”
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