Portland’s solar energy generates top 20 label

April 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Portland was propelled into the top 20 solar-powered U.S. cities this week by generating solar energy through programs including Solarize Portland, Environment Oregon and Solar Forward.

At number 15, Portland is contributing to solar growth in the U.S., which today has 200 times more solar power installed than in 2002.

The top 20 cities, leading with Los Angeles, have more solar power than the entire U.S. had five years ago. Though they hold only 0.1 percent of the nation’s land mass, these cities generate 7 percent of the nation’s solar power.

“As a pollution-free energy source with no fuel costs, solar energy is an important part of the city’s overall strategy to protect the climate and reduce carbon emissions,” says Portland Mayor Charlie Hales. “The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability has helped demonstrate what’s possible at the local level with great programs like Solarize Portland and Solar Forward, but there’s much more to be done.”

On April 10, Solar Forward, a Portland-based government program, named Hacienda Community Development Corporation (CDC) in Cully as the next site for solar installation. Environment Oregon, a statewide nonprofit, partnered with them to add solar panels to the Ortiz Community Center’s futsal court. The 10-kilowatt solar array on the roof of the court will power the court’s lights as well as the community center.

“Hacienda has long believed that environmental amenities should be available to Portlanders of all income levels,” says Victor Merced, executive director of Hacienda CDC. “We are excited for the opportunity to build on our commitment to green building in Cully with the addition of this partnership with Solar Forward.”

It’s not only nonprofits growing and supporting solar power in Oregon. Apple opened a new data center in Prineville and plans to power it entirely with renewable energy. Facilities like this use more electricity than a small city, but Apple is looking into wind, hydroelectric and solar sources, which it is already operating at a 20-megawatt facility in South Carolina.

Apple plans to buy 200 acres to install solar panels near its 338,000-square-foot facility, which is estimated to exceed 37 megawatts, or as much power as 27,000 homes.

Solar energy has no fuel costs, smoggy pollution or contribution to climate change. The cost of fossil fuels is rising, but using solar power instead also saves the water that would be used to cool fossil fuel facilities.

Solar energy is estimated to bring 2,900 jobs to Oregon for maintenance, installation and manufacturing. Portland’s solar capacity has grown from about 4 to 15 megawatts in the past five years.

“The sky’s the limit on solar energy. Portland is a shining example of solar leadership,” says Charlie Fisher, field organizer with Environment Oregon. “By committing to bold goals and expanding on the good policies we’ve adopted, we can take solar to the next level.”

To view Portland’s solar energy map, visit: www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/446449

Julia Rogers can be reached at 503-546-5137 or
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