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Report: Baltimore Lags Behind Cities in Solar-Power Installations


Wednesday, April 20, 2022   

The amount of solar power installed in just nine U.S. cities exceeds the amount installed in the entire country 10 years ago, a new report finds.

Baltimore doesn't make the "top ten" cities listed in the report, but advocates say the city has major opportunities to become a solar leader. The report from Environment America found that, at the end of 2021, Baltimore was home to slightly more than 16 megawatts of solar capacity, or 27-watts per person.

Johanna Neumann, senior director of the Environment America Research and Policy Center, said this puts Baltimore in the middle of the pack among surveyed cities and shows room for growth.

"Progress like the six solar rooftops at the Sandtown-Winchester Condominium Association in West Baltimore demonstrate Baltimore's potential to grow solar," she said. "Our hope is that local and state leaders set their sights on helping solar power thrive in Baltimore, and throughout Maryland."

The United States now has more than 120 gigawatts of solar capacity installed nationwide, enough to power more than 23 million homes. This session, the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation to reduce the tax burden on rooftop and parking-canopy solar projects in low- to moderate-income communities.

The report found that solar power development in cities has been driven by pro-solar policies at every level of government, alongside improvements in solar technologies and falling prices. Neumann said she thinks that, on a state level, Maryland should protect net metering, which allows solar owners to sell excess power back to the grid for their neighbors at market rates.

"More than any other policy, net metering has allowed solar to flourish," she said. "And unfortunately, it's under attack in states all across the country, where utilities and other fossil-fuel interests are feeling threatened by the growth of solar power, and are working to stop it dead in its tracks."

Neumann said solar also can be beneficial in helping decrease air pollution, which is important for cities such as Baltimore with heavy health burdens exacerbated by nearby coal-fired power plants.

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