TALLAHASSEE, Fla.--As Florida continues to debate policies critical to the growth of solar power, a new report released today shows that Jacksonville ranks 19th for installed solar capacity.
The report comes as Florida legislators debate a utility proposal that would further wed Floridians to out-of-state dirty energy sources like fracking, while also stalling to swiftly implement pro-solar measures like Amendment 4 that remove solar barriers for businesses.
“By using solar power, Jacksonville is reducing pollution and improving public health for everyday Floridians,” said Jennifer Rubiello, state director of Environment Florida. “To realize these benefits, city leaders should embrace a big vision for solar on rooftops throughout the state.”
The report, Shining Cities: How Smart Local Policies Are Expanding Solar Power in America, ranks Jacksonville ahead of cities like Tampa, Miami, and Orlando for amount of installed solar for the 3rd year in a row. Although Jacksonville ranks in the top 20 cities for solar installed, its rank dropped from 16th last year.
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 8,260 people employed in solar in Florida, a 26 percent increase from 2015.
Despite that growth, challenges remain for the solar industry in Florida. While solar power is growing throughout the nation, utility companies are campaigning intensely to maintain barriers to rooftop solar, which they see as a direct threat to their business model.
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.
The report also shows that while Jacksonville is a solar leader, it currently only uses 1.5 percent of its solar potential, according to data from the US Department of Energy.
“Cities are big energy users with lots of unutilized roof space suitable for solar panels,” said Rubiello from Environment Florida. “Jacksonville can continue leading the way and protect our environment by using as much of our solar potential as possible.”