St. Petersburg, Florida - Florida mayors representing 22 cities across our state have joined a list of 300 cities across the U.S. in signing on to a letter calling for a future powered by more clean, renewable solar power, released today by Environment America Research & Policy Center. The group of “Mayors for Solar Energy” committed to this cause is bipartisan and represents cities of all sizes spanning all 50 states.
Mayors from Florida who signed onto the letter include Mayor Francis Suarez of Miami, Mayor Lenny Curry of Jacksonville, Mayor Bill Barnett of Naples, and Mayor Buddy Dyer of Orlando.
“Solar energy is charging forward at a pace we once thought to be impossible, and America’s cities are at the forefront of spurring that progress,” said Ryann Lynn, Climate and Clean Energy Advocate with Environment Florida Research and Policy Center. “Local officials are unlocking the power of the sun by taking advantage of millions of available rooftops and broad public support to bring cleaner, greener and more resilient energy to their communities.”
Mayors involved in this effort are not only signing on to this letter, but are also speaking publicly about the importance of solar power.
"Renewable energy, such as solar, is a better energy source because we don’t have to pay other countries to get it, and even more importantly, it will help keep our air clean and reduce the cost and suffering of those with lung diseases,” said Mayor Jim Brainard of Carmel, Indiana. “In this case, because we can reduce the amount of electricity we buy, our rate of return on our investment is competitive, so it is also a good financial investment for our taxpayers."
The mayors here in Florida also recognize the wide array of benefits beyond environmental protection. Locally sourcing solar power is not only a win for the health of their constituents, but it’s also smart governance.
“Solar energy presents a bright opportunity for our city to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, improve air quality and public health, diversify our local economy and create quality jobs in the green industry, and address one of the most pressing challenges facing humanity -- the climate change crisis,” said Mayor Buddy Dyer. Orlando is expanding the range of solar options that residents can take part in through group purchasing and solar co-ops as well. “Orlando just launched another solar co-op this summer, now with over 200 homeowners currently signed up and over 1MW of new rooftop solar capacity in the pipeline. We also plan to launch a "100% committed" campaign to encourage the business community to subscribe to the community solar farms and begin taking the first step in achieving our 100% renewable energy goal by 2050.”
The Mayors for Solar Energy project goes beyond the letter itself, including resources such as the Ten Ways Your Community Can Go Solar policy toolkit and webinar trainings to help cities in Florida adopt more renewable energy.
In April, Tallahassee become the seventh city in Florida to pass a resolution committing the city to transition to renewable energy, such as solar. The City Commission voted unanimously to power the city’s own operations with 100 percent renewable sources by 2035, and community wide by 2050. Since then, Miami Beach joined Tallahassee, Gainesville, Orlando, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Largo and Dunedin in setting a 100 percent goal.
“Mayors for Solar Energy is proof that regardless of geography, demographics or political affiliation, local leaders understand how beneficial solar can be for a wide array of communities,” Lynn said. “The future of energy will be clean and close to home, and these mayors represent the first wave of leaders who will bring the benefits of solar to communities coast-to-coast.”
Environment Florida Research & Policy Center is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to protecting Florida’s air, water and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help people make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives.