New Orleans - The Big Easy ranks ninth for solar power per capita, according to a new analysis of installed solar capacity released today by Environment America Research & Policy Center.
The report, Shining Cities: How Smart Local Policies Are Expanding Solar Power in America, ranks New Orleans ahead of cities like San Antonio, Sacramento and Jacksonville for solar installed per capita. New Orleans also ranks fourteenth for total solar capacity installed.
“By using solar power in New Orleans, we can reduce pollution and improve public health for everyday Louisianians,” said Bret Fanshaw with Environment America Research & Policy Center, report co-author. “To realize these benefits, city leaders should continue to embrace a big vision for solar on rooftops throughout the community.”
In particular, New Orleans’ officials have encouraged solar by calling for policies that would help stir its growth. In 2015, the city council unanimously adopted a resolution stating, “...we support public policies to encourage a robust local solar industry to save our families money, provide quality employment opportunities, produce clean energy, and grow our local economy.”
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 956 people employed in solar in New Orleans Metro Area as of year-end 2016, a 36 percent increase from 2015.
“New Orleans has been fortunate to have an abundance of sunshine, supportive regulators at the city council, and a strong solar industry thanks to solar incentives and solar-leasing programs,” said Logan Atkinson Burke, the Executive Director of Alliance for Affordable Energy. “Whole neighborhoods are leading the charge through word of mouth, and are showing their support for clean energy as a way to reduce their electricity bills. This is what it looks like when the community sets an example.”
Despite that growth, challenges remain for the solar in Louisiana. State lawmakers capped and reduced state solar tax credits from 2015 to 2017; the state solar tax credit was a major incentive for many homeowners to go solar.
The report also shows that while New Orleans is a solar leader, the city only uses 3 percent of its solar potential, according to data from the U.S. Department of Energy.
“Cities are big energy users with lots of unutilized roof space suitable for solar panels,” said Fanshaw. “New Orleans can continue to lead the way and protect our environment by using as much of our 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.