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Friday, April 11, 2014
Sky's the Limit? Honolulu #1 City for Buying into Solar Hype
By News Release @ 5:00 PM :: 6422 Views :: Honolulu County, Energy, Hawaii Statistics

New Report: Honolulu Ranks #1 Among Major U.S. Cities on Solar Per Capita

News Release from City and County of Honolulu April 11, 2014 (With notes to enhance accuracy.)

Today, Environment America (who?) released a new report: “Shining Cities: At the Forefront of America’s Solar Energy Revolution”; a first-of-its-kind comparative look (written by industry flacks) at the growth of solar ('Shining' = money) in major American cities. Honolulu ranks 1st for the amount of solar installed per capita (265 watts/person) and 5th in the nation for total solar capacity (91 MW) among major U.S. cities.

“Solar Energy is booming across the country with cities playing a leading role,” said Rob Sargent, Energy Program Director for Environment America. “And, thanks to the commitment of city leaders and strong state policies, Honolulu leads the pack.”

The report found that there is more than 200 times as much solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed in the U.S. today compared to 2002, much of that in America’s cities. The top 20 cities account for 7 percent of the installed photovoltaic solar, while occupying only 0.1 percent of the land area. 

“Environment America’s study is great news for the people of Honolulu, and it’s only the beginning as we strive to aggressively transition to a green, sustainable energy system,” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell.  “Our city is leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the nation when it comes to PV capacity per capita and an excellent example of how the state, city, and private sector can work together for the benefit of all.  We will continue to work together and explore emerging technologies and innovative policy solutions to bring down costs, protect our natural beauty, and keep our energy dollars here in Hawaii.”

With the cost of solar coming down, there’s growing awareness of solar power as a mainstream energy solution with widespread benefits for our health, our economy and the environment. 

“Energy is a top priority of this administration, and Honolulu’s number one ranking in per capita solar installations is evidence of the substantial progress we are making in the area of clean energy,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie.  “As outlined in the State Energy Policy that my administration established in 2013, we are focused on having a diversified energy portfolio which emphasizes clean energy measures.”

The report highlighted the benefits of solar energy, including:

Solar energy avoids pollution—Pollution-free energy from the sun reduces air pollution that contributes to urban smog and global warming. (Except in China where the panels are made with immense amounts of coal-fired electricity.) It also helps save the massive amount of water that’s normally consumed (Really?  Is it turned into something that is not water?) during the cooling of fossil-fuel-burning power plants. 

Solar energy protects consumers — Hawaii has to import most of its fuel, resulting in the highest electricity prices in the nation. Since solar has no fuel costs, (Just massive capital costs.) it can protect Hawaiians from the rising price of fossil fuels. (Export your money to the mainland now.)

Solar energy helps the economy— Hawaii added 1,000 solar jobs last year and now has 2,600 people employed in the solar industry, according the Solar Foundation’s 2013 Solar Jobs Census. 

The top 20 solar cities in this report have more solar power within their city limits than was installed in the entire U.S. just five years ago. (But only for about 6-8 hours on sunny days.)

“Honolulu tops the national ranking with a total of 91 megawatts of total solar capacity among major U.S. cities,” said Richard Lim, director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT).  “This top ranking is a clear indication of Hawaii reaching and exceeding the clean energy goals as set forth by the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative.”

The report pointed to policies that encourage investment in solar PV installations, which have been adopted by local and state leaders;

· City leaders can set ambitious and achievable goals and citizens and businesses can work with local governments to meet them.  Cities can lead by example by putting solar on public buildings.

· Cities can adopt policies to advance solar power in their communities, including tax incentives, solar-friendly zoning and building codes, and low interest loan programs; like Honolulu’s solar loan program.  Cities can also run programs like “Solarize” programs that use bulk purchasing and educational campaigns to help neighbors “go solar” together; like

· City leaders can work with state governments to ensure that they have strong programs to expand solar, including renewable energy standards, solar carve-outs or feed-in tariffs, net metering and community solar programs.

· City leaders can also demand a strong partnership with the federal government to ensure that federal incentives such as tax credits are continued.  And, that federal programs, such as the Solar America’s Cities and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant programs continue to provide support and technical assistance to cities seeking to expand solar.

“The Hawaii State Energy Office plays a vital role in helping our state meet its energy goals,” said State Energy Administrator Mark Glick.  “Removing barriers and providing the framework and tools for the development of energy conservation helped Honolulu attain the top spot in solar PV per capita.”

“The sky’s the limit on solar energy. (Sky = 15%) Honolulu is a shining example of solar leadership,” said Sargent   “But, we’ve barely scratched the surface (Scratch = 15%) of the potential to capture this pollution-free energy source.  (Quick IQ test: Is solar 'pollution free'?)   The progress we’ve made should give us the confidence we can do much more.”  (If only HECO would pretend it is OK to go beyond 15%.)


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