INDIANAPOLIS - As Indiana continues to debate policies critical to the growth of solar power, a new report released today shows that Indianapolis ranks fourth in the U.S. for installed solar capacity per capita.
“I am proud to see Indianapolis lead the nation as the fourth-ranked city for solar energy per capita, and we are committed to continuing our leadership by streamlining permitting processes and implementing new and innovative ways to encourage solar energy growth,” said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett. “Advancing solar energy in Indianapolis benefits not only our air and water, and the health of our community – it creates high-wage, local jobs and stimulates economic development. I look forward to seeing more solar installed on rooftops across Indianapolis this year, and into the future.”
The report, Shining Cities: How Smart Local Policies Are Expanding Solar Power in America, ranks Indianapolis ahead of cities like St. Louis, New York and Las Vegas for amount of installed solar per capita. The report ranks Indianapolis sixth overall for total solar capacity installed.
The report comes as state officials debate SB 309, which would reduce compensation for excess solar power funneled into the grid by altering the state’s net metering policy. The change has been opposed by the solar advocacy groups.
“By using solar power in Indianapolis, we can reduce pollution and improve public health for everyday Hoosiers,” said Bret Fanshaw with Environment America, report co-author. “We applaud city leaders for embracing a big vision for solar, and we urge state leaders to maintain policies that help people in Indiana access solar power on their roofs.”
The figures in the report reflect the recent growth of solar across the country. The top 20 cities listed in the report have nearly as much solar today as the entire country had installed in 2010. In 2016, solar was the number one new source of energy installed in America.
The Solar Foundation just released new data showing there are 645 people employed in solar in the Indianapolis Metro Area at the end of 2016, a 36 percent increase since 2015.
A big reason for Indianapolis’ ranking is the IND Solar Farm at Indianapolis International Airport.
"This is an honor and a real win for Indianapolis, which is home to the largest airport-based solar farm in the world. Part of our land-use strategy is to return non-aviation land back to the community for private and tax-revenue generating use,” said Mario Rodriguez, executive director of the Indianapolis Airport Authority. “The Indianapolis International Airport solar farm, which was funded through private sources, is a perfect example of how that approach can benefit the community, increase the public value of the airport campus, and contribute to sustainability."
Cities can push solar forward in a number of ways, according to the report. Among the recommendations, cities can set a goal for solar usage, help residents finance solar power and put solar on government buildings.
“Cities are big energy users with lots of unutilized roof space suitable for solar panels,” said Fanshaw. “Indianapolis can continue to lead the way and protect our environment by using as much of its solar potential as possible.”
Environment America Research & Policy Center is a national federation of environmental organizations dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces.