New report shows Phoenix and Tucson are among top cities for solar energy

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A new report that ranks 70 cities on their progress with solar energy, conducted by the Environment Arizona Research and Policy Center, says Phoenix is fourth in the amount of solar energy installed and Tucson is fourth for solar energy per person.

The top three cities in the report were Los Angeles, San Diego and Honolulu. Bret Fanshaw, director of the Go Solar Campaign, says California is on top because of their “programs and policies that encourage not only rooftop solar but also large scale solar development.” The state is aiming for 50 percent renewable energy, which is also encouraging.

“Solar’s growing pretty fast,” Fanshaw says. “Across the country, it’s really grown year by year during the last decade, which means the costs have significantly gone down. I think we will continue to see it grow.”

Since cities have the most energy demand because of the population density, it makes a significant difference when those areas switch to renewable energy. Fanshaw says it helps that cities have the infrastructure like roof space and parking lots where they can place solar panels.

“State policy really does matter for how cities are doing,” Fanshaw says. “City governments can make decisions that influence solar, but all of the solar we counted in Phoenix is not just because of the good things the city is doing. It also counties policies that have encouraged residents and businesses to adopt it as well.”

Fanshaw says Arizona has made great progress, especially with the adoption of more rooftop solar. While the cost to switch to solar isn’t cheap, it’s a more cost effective option than not switching to renewable energy. Some reports have said renewable energy will be the same cost as fossil fuels within the next few years.

Bret Fanshaw: Environment Arizona Research and Policy Center

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