Los Angeles, Calif.; San Diego, Calif.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Honolulu, Hawaii; San Jose, Calif.; New York, N.Y.; San Antonio, Texas; Indianapolis, Ind.; Las Vegas, Nev.; Denver, Colo. — what do these cities have in common? They lead Environment America Research & Policy Center’s “Top 20 Shining Cities by Total Installed Solar PV Capacity,” as of 2018’s end. They were ranked by the total per capita solar PV installed.
Within its report, the nonprofit noted, “Our sixth annual survey of solar energy in America’s biggest cities finds that the amount of solar power installed in just 20 U.S. cities exceeds the amount installed in the entire United States at the end of 2010. Of the 57 cities surveyed in all six editions of this report, 79 percent more than doubled their total installed solar PV capacity between 2013 and 2018.”
Renewable energy is catching on, and this last April, renewable energy — hydro, biomass, wind, solar and geothermal — was set to surpass coal for the first month ever; this trend was anticipated to continue to a lesser degree through May, according to the Energy Information Administration’s short-term energy outlook.
More cities are committing to cleaner energy sources not only for their financial benefits, but also to match citizens’ growing desires for green energy. In April, Chicago became the largest U.S. city to set an official goal of achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2040 — with all of its buildings being powered by renewable energy by 2035. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel signed the resolution into law April 10.
On a much smaller scale from Chicago, the town of Babcock Ranch, Fla., is building sustainability into its infrastructure as it develops. Writer Catey Traylor highlights this unique community and its efforts to maintain its natural beauty and reduce its environmental footprint using solar energy and energy-efficient building standards. Babcock Ranch definitely makes an interesting case study since it is starting from scratch.
Saving energy as a whole is another major goal for municipalities of all sizes. Writer Elisa Walker will be profiling Montgomery, Ala., which has seen massive savings simply through educating its employees on how certain behaviors, such as shutting off lights, can reduce energy usage. We will also be looking at microgrids, which many cities are turning to for resiliency efforts, especially in areas more prone to severe weather or wildfires.
Water also plays a role in this issue, with Denise Fedorow spotlighting the state of Iowa’s efforts to reduce the amount of nutrients entering its water sources and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico.
Here’s hoping for a relatively dry June, especially after all the heavy rains in April and May, which affected many cities within our readership.