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

Blog Post

Solar Homes webinar highlights leadership opportunity for cities and states | Emma Searson

On February 20th, a group of 45 city and state decision makers and clean energy advocates joined us for our webinar, “What a Solar Homes Policy Could do for Your Community.” Environment America’s Go Solar Campaign Director Bret Fanshaw summarized the findings of our recent report, Solar Homes: The Next Step for Clean Energy. Representatives from the California Solar and Storage Association and the City of South Miami, Florida, then spoke to their communities’ successes in making solar the default on new construction through statewide and municipal Solar Homes policies, respectively.

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News Release | Environment Washington

Snohomish County Commits to 100% Clean, Renewable Electricity, Energy

On February 21, the Snohomish County Council unanimously passed a resolution committing the county to 100% clean, renewable energy. The resolution commits the county to a goal of 100% clean electricity by 2030 and 100% clean energy, sector-wide including transportation and other energy sectors, by 2045.

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News Release | Environment Washington

Students Tour Washington to Support 100% Clean Energy

Students from the WashPIRG Student Chapters are travelling the state to build support for 100% Renewable Energy and the 100% clean electricity bill before the state legislature. Students are stopping in cities, meeting with local leaders and talking to the media about why they support renewable energy and why it’s essential for Washington’s future.

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News Release | Environment Washington

House Environment Committee passes bill to increase energy-saving standards for common products

On February 7, 2019, the House Environment Committee passed HB 1444, which would adopt appliance efficiency standards on 17 consumer products, including commercial dishwashers, commercial fryers, water coolers and faucets. The new standards would reduce customers’ utility bills, cut climate altering carbon dioxide pollution and smog forming emissions, and save water resources. Following is the statement of Environment Washington Director Bruce Speight.

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News Release | Environment Washington

Environment Washington, NW Energy Coalition urge state legislators to adopt energy-saving standards for common products

Environment Washington joined environmental and consumer allies to press the Washington legislature to adopt appliance efficiency standards (SB 5115/HB 1444) on 17 consumer products, including commercial dishwashers, commercial fryers, water coolers and faucets. The new standards would reduce customers’ utility bills, cut climate altering carbon dioxide pollution and smog forming emissions, and save water resources.

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