Trenton – With solar energy on the rise across New Jersey and the country, Environment New Jersey announced the launch of a push to get cities and local governments to make sizable commitments to capturing the power of the sun. The Shining Cities campaign will engage and mobilize thousands of members, volunteers and the growing ranks of stakeholders who recognize the tremendous environmental and economic benefits to convince local governments to expand their use of pollution-free solar power.
“New Jersey’s cities are full of untapped potential to go solar on our homes, schools, businesses, and public buildings,” said Carli Jensen, Environment New Jersey’s Campaign Director. “Local leaders can help their communities reap the benefits of solar by setting ambitious goals for generating solar power and creating smart programs to reach those goals.”
Cities are already contributing to the success of solar. A recent report by Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center showed that in 2015, the 20 cities in the nation with the most solar represent just 0.1 percent of U.S. land area, but account for 6 percent of U.S. solar photovoltaic capacity. The report shows that Newark is the leading city in the state, and the entire Northeast region, for per capita solar, with 75 watts of solar power per person, and 21 megawatts of total solar power installed. In New Jersey, Elizabeth, Jersey City, Perth Amboy, Clifton, Trenton, Bayonne, New Brunswick, Camden, and Paterson round out the top ten cities in the state for solar power.
New Jersey is one of the top 10 states in the country with the most solar capacity, with over 59,000 solar installations—but there is much more untapped potential for solar energy in the state. With so many rooftops here in the most densely-populated state in the nation, a large demand for power, and a desire to reduce pollution while creating local jobs—solar represents a big opportunity for New Jersey’s cities.
“Solar power is pollution-free, virtually unlimited, has no fuel costs and can be installed much faster than other options” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “As the urgency of environmental problems grow and the price of solar declines, it simply makes sense to go solar”
Environment New Jersey is partnering with Environment America on the national “Shining Cities” campaign, to get at least 20 local governments to embrace big solar targets by the end of next year, including key cities and towns here in New Jersey.
The effort builds off the momentum of dozens of successful campaigns by Environment America to convince local and state governments to adopt strong solar policies and programs, including victories in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Athens, GA; Cincinnati, Lansing, MI; Austin, TX; Milwaukie, OR and Lake Oswego, OR, as well as successful campaigns for state level renewable energy policy in nearly 20 states over the past decade.
Solar energy continues to experience record growth in the United States, and New Jersey continues to be a leader in solar, both regionally and nationally. The U.S. now has twelve times the amount of solar we had in 2010; hosting over 31 gigawatts of installed solar capacity, the equivalent to powering 6.2 million American homes with solar. After decades of progress, the U.S. reached 1 million solar installations earlier this year and the industry expects to reach 2 million installations in just two years. New Jersey has over 59,000 installations, generating more than 1.8 million kilowatt hours of electricity, and the solar industry has added 7,071 jobs to New Jersey’s economy.
“Solar has never had greater promise in New Jersey. We know it will take the involvement of local community members and elected leaders to spread the promise of clean, renewable energy to some of New Jersey’s largest cities, but the time to start is now,” Jensen said.
Environment New Jersey is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization working for clean air, clean water, and open space, and represents more than 20,000 dues-paying members. For more information: www.environmentnewjersey.org