It’s time for Washington to go big on solar power

More of us are going solar, meeting our energy needs in a way that’s clean, local and independent. Consider:

  • Solar power has tripled in the U.S. in the last two years, with another American family or business going solar every four minutes.
  • That’s in part because the price of solar has dropped more than 50 percent since 2011.
  • The chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said that “solar is growing so fast it is going to overtake everything...It could double every  two years.”

Who's attacking solar?

Unfortunately, solar power’s rapid growth has alarmed some dirty energy companies. They keep putting up new roadblocks to solar -- so they can keep solar generating less than 3% of our power, even if it means more pollution and more global warming.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Charles and David Koch, owners of the oil conglomerate Koch Industries, and their allies have spent heavily to impose new taxes on homeowners who go solar – in effect, penalizing those who reduce their pollution and their carbon footprint.
  • The Edison Electric Institute, which represents electric utility companies, has teamed up with the American Legislative Exchange Council to dismantle state pro-solar laws in Kansas, North Carolina and Washington State, amid others.
  • Oklahoma, Arizona and Ohio already have moved to scale back their solar programs.

Keep the solar surge going strong

Solar power might disrupt the business plans of dirty energy companies, but it makes a ton of sense for America.

That’s why people from all walks of life are getting behind solar, from environmentalists to Tea Party activists, from solar entrepreneurs to Barry Goldwater, Jr., son of the former Republican nominee for president.

Our challenge is to not only fend off the attacks being led by the dirty energy lobby, but to keep the surge in solar power going strong.

How do we do it?

Our research shows the cities and states with the most solar power aren’t necessarily the ones with the most sunshine; they also include states with smart pro-solar policies. For example:

  • Arizona, Hawaii and California made the list of the top 10 states for solar in our 2014 report. But so did Massachusetts, New Jersey, Colorado and Delaware, all thanks to smart policies.
  • The top 10 solar states, with only 26% of the nation’s population, were responsible for 87% of the nation’s solar power.
  • Our report found all or nearly all of the states shared a set of smart policies in common, from strong clean energy standards to policies that let solar homeowners sell their extra power back to the utilities.

10 percent solar by 2025

We need more and better pro-solar policies, not fewer. 

That’s why we’re urging Gov. Jay Inslee to make commitments that will help put Washington on the road to 100% clean energy, with 10 percent solar by 2025.

Achieving this state goal would help move our country closer to the national goal of getting 10 percent solar by 2030. This would produce immediate and long-lasting benefits for our environment, including removing 280 million metric tons of carbon from the atmosphere by 2030—the equivalent of taking 59 million cars off the road.

Let's go big on solar

We think a combination of professional research and advocacy with community action can help Washington go big on solar. Why? Our national federation has done it before.

Environment California spearheaded the campaign for that state’s Million Solar Roofs Initiative. In Massachusetts, we helped convince the state to set a goal of enough solar to power 50,000 homes – and then persuaded the state to raise the goal when it hit the original milestone ahead of schedule. We’ve also won pro-solar policies in Colorado, New Mexico, Minnesota, Arizona, New Jersey and North Carolina.            

But we have a long way to go to reach solar power’s true potential.

It’s time to go big on solar. If we take the right steps today, we can harness more power from the sun so we can finally leave dirty energy behind. The sky really is the limit.

Issue updates

News Release | Environment Washington

New report: Washington ranks 25th in the nation for solar power

Today, Environment Washington Research & Policy Center released Lighting the Way: What We Can Learn from America’s Top 12 Solar States, a new report highlighting a solar energy boom across the country. Despite high solar potential, Washington State, a leader in producing wind energy, is ranked 25th in the Country for solar power, producing less than one percent of its total energy from the sun.

> Keep Reading
Report | Environment Washington Research & Policy Center

Lighting the Way

Solar energy is on the rise. America has more than three times as much solar photovoltaic capacity today as in 2010, and more than 10 times as much as in 2007. In the first three months of 2013, solar power accounted for nearly half of the new electricity generating capacity in the United States.

> Keep Reading
Report | Environment Washington

Solar Works for Washington

Washington’s strong clean energy policies have made it a national leader in wind energy and in energy efficiency. However, the state’s potential for solar power remains virtually untapped. Washington can start taking advantage of its full potential for solar energy by developing its capacity for rooftop solar power.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment Washington

New Report Highlights Washington’s Solar Potential

Last week Gov. Inslee signed his first bill into law, one that is aimed at tackling climate change in Washington. One solution the governor has often touted is solar energy. Today, Environment Washington, industry leaders, and city officials joined together to show that solar energy is a viable, yet under-utilized, energy source for Washington. They asked Gov. Inslee to set a goal for Washington of installing the solar capacity equivalent to 150,000 solar roofs in Washington by 2020.

> Keep Reading
Report | Environment Washington

Plug into Clean Energy

America’s homes are like cars that only get 10 miles to the gallon. Buildings consume 40 percent of America’s energy, and much of that energy is literally flying out the window rather than heating or cooling our homes and businesses. What’s worse, energy-wasting buildings are responsible for nearly half of our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.

> Keep Reading

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