Boston - Boston ranks 19th for total solar energy capacity installed among major U.S. cities, and advocates say the city could do more to encourage residents and businesses to go solar.
“Solar energy means cleaner air, healthier kids, and a safer future for our cities,” said Ben Hellerstein, State Director for the Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center. “We’ve seen some progress on solar energy in Boston, but there’s room to do much more.”
The report, Shining Cities 2018: How Smart Local Policies Are Expanding Solar Power in America, ranks Boston 19th for total solar energy installed, as well as 19th for solar energy per capita.
As of the end of 2017, 20 cities, representing just 0.1 percent of U.S. land area, accounted for more than 4 percent of the total solar capacity installed across the country. There is more solar capacity installed in these cities today than the entire country had installed by the end of 2010.
The potential for rooftop solar energy in Boston is 341 megawatts, more than ten times as much as is currently installed.
While Boston is the only city in Massachusetts large enough to be included in the national rankings, the report also highlights solar energy progress in Worcester. The City of Worcester recently completed the largest municipal solar installation in New England.
“Organizations like Dismas are turning to solar energy and energy efficiency as a long-term cost saving tool to sustain our work,” said Dave McMahon, Executive Director of Dismas House, a nonprofit based in Worcester. “These investments helped save Dismas House significant funds which could then be utilized for case management, groceries, other utilities, insurance, and other agency costs associated with housing and serving our clientele.”
Shining Cities 2018 is the fifth annual report from the Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center ranking nearly 70 of the nation’s major cities by megawatts of solar energy.
Currently, Boston officials are developing a new climate action plan to meet Mayor Marty Walsh’s commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Advocates urged Mayor Walsh to include the report’s recommendations in the city’s climate plan.
“We are in a moment when progress on renewable energy will come from cities across the country,” said Hellerstein. “More local leaders should step up and start plugging their communities into the clean and virtually limitless power of the sun.”