The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected 12 new Solar America Cities, bringing the number from 13 to 25 in total, and moving along the $2.4 million initiative to provide up to $200,000 per city to build solid solar infrastructures. The announcement came at the New Frontiers in Energy Summit 2008 in Denver, Colorado, which is among the 2008 Solar America Initiative (SAI) cities. The overall program goals are to facilitate adoption of solar technology by individuals and businesses and to make solar electricity from photovoltaics a cost-competitive energy choice by 2015.
The newly selected Solar America Cities are Denver, Colorado; Houston, Texas; Knoxville, Tennessee; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Minneapolis – St. Paul, Minnesota; Orlando, Florida; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; San Antonio, Texas; Seattle, Washington; and three cities in California including San Jose, Santa Rosa and Sacramento. Chosen for their commitment to developing ways to implement solar technologies citywide, these cities will receive funding and technical support from DOE experts – an additional $3 million is slated for technical support on top of the programs $2.4 million budget.
In relative terms, the project funding is quite small considering the size of the cities and the costs of solar equipment in today’s market. However, combined efforts from the DOE, industry cost share and funding from each chosen city is estimated at $12.1 million for the whole initiative. Starts to add up. And the program is a big step in the right direction especially considering the geographical diversity of the municipalities, which are spread coast to coast.
With the DOE’s support, cities can also develop solar financing options and incentive programs. Earlier this year one of the 2007 Solar America Cities, Tuscon, AZ, approved a plan to help residents off set the initial cost of solar photovoltaic systems by providing 20-year funding to homeowners to install solar panels and pay for them in their property-tax bills. Enabling these kinds of individual applications for solar thermal and solar photovoltaic, as well as tagging funds for large-scale industrial projects, is definitely making the renewable energy sector in the states grow a lot sunnier.
The 12 new Solar America Cities join the 13 2007 SAI cities including Ann Arbor, Michigan; Austin, Texas; Boston, Massachusetts; Madison, Wisconsin; New Orleans, Louisiana; New York City; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Portland, Oregon; Salt Lake City, Utah; Tucson, Arizona; and three California cities – Berkeley, San Diego, and San Francisco. The Solar America Cities First Annual Meeting is set for April 14 to 16 in Tucson, Arizona.