Cities across the country have made commitments to reaching ambitious renewable energy and carbon reduction goals. While these metros have made progress in the past few years, there’s still plenty of work to be done.
Commercial and industrial (C&I) solar project developers and EPCs are in a good position to help these cities reach their goals.
The latest City Clean Energy Scorecard from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) found thatonly one-fifth of U.S. cities are on track to meet their goals in 2020.
The council ranked 100 large U.S. cities for their energy efficiency, using a metric to score each one they assessed. With a total of 100 points available, the Scorecard measured municipal policies and programs that save energy, encourage renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
While the top-scoring cities, such as New York City, Boston and Seattle did well, only 17 metros earned at least half of the available points across the Scorecard. Meanwhile, the median score for the bottom 10 cities dropped in point count from 22.75 in 2015 to just 19 in 2020.
Of the 100 cities assessed, only 63 had community-wide initiatives to reduce carbon emissions. Of these 63 cities, only 34 provided data to track their progress.
In order to meet these goals, many municipalities will need to ramp up their efforts by adopting and implementing more impactful clean energy policies. While some areas may be stymied by challenging state policy environments, prioritizing energy efficiency and renewable energy projects will be critical for success.
Solar developers and EPCs have the chance to provide the technical expertise necessary to identify areas where solar power can help.
Not only must cities provide greater financial incentives and clean-energy requirements, they must also lead by example. Thankfully, most municipalities own and operate a host of spaces ideal for solar PV installations.
While the pandemic slowed C&I solar projects in 2020, their potential has never been greater — with a massive addressable market for the taking. A recent study revealed only about 3.5 percent of all commercial buildings have on-site solar and only 1 percent use off-site solar, such as community solar subscriptions. Of the remaining market, approximately 70 percent of commercial buildings, ormore than 600,000 sites, remain as prime targets for solar projects.
These sites include municipal buildings, school districts, police and fire departments, and many other social services, often with their own facilities and buildings. Many cities also own and operate parking lots, which are prime locations for installing solar carports.
Additionally, cities are also in better positions to pursue community solar installations than other organizations or enterprises. One necessity for a successful community solar program involves engaging and exciting the customers instead of just trying to fit the program into a utility’s existing business model. City-led community solar projects are in a great position to engage and excite customers with ease due to their familiarity with outreach programs.
Helping cities reach their sustainability goals can present a great opportunity for solar developers and EPCs. In many instances, developers and EPCs may even need to take initiative in pitching proposals and guiding elected officials through the technical aspects of PV installations.
Any solar project proposal will need to ensure delivery value to the city as well as provide renewable energy. One great way to create more value for commercial PV installations for municipal governments involves using a smart C&I Solutions. This can provide all-in-one streamlined procurement and seamless interconnection along with long-term O&M services and power guarantees that optimize PV installations.
A smart solar solution can help accelerate the municipal decarbonization process and provide greater value for big or small cities. This can be especially critical in helping areas where municipal resources are tight, or where skepticism might run high.
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