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Michelle Kinman,
Environment California

New Report: Fresno is a Leading Solar City

City doubles number of solar roofs in past two years, places in top 10 for state
For Immediate Release

Fresno – Environment California Research & Policy Center released a new report today analyzing the amount of solar power installed by cities across the state. The report, California’s Solar Cities 2012: Leaders in the Race Toward a Clean Energy Future, identifies the hubs of the state’s thriving solar economy and shows that Fresno ranks 4th in the state in terms of the amount of solar electricity generated with 22 megawatts. Fresno ranks 5th in the state in terms of the number of solar installations on residential, commercial and government buildings, with just over 2,100 projects installed. The number of solar roof installations in Fresno has doubled in the past two years alone. 

“Competing with the state’s biggest cities, Fresno has emerged as a real solar power leader,” said Stephanie Droste-Packham, with Environment California Research & Policy Center. “The Central Valley is growing its solar power market one roof at a time, bringing clean air and green jobs to the region.”

Mayor Ashley Swearengin spoke at the event, reaffirming her commitment to expanding Fresno’s solar market.

“The City of Fresno and its residents can be proud of our leadership in developing and implementing new and innovative programs that save energy and money, protect the environment and improve the local economy,” Mayor Ashley Swearengin said.

"Rooftop solar is an ideal energy source in the San Joaquin Valley, especially considering how sunny and hot it is here,” said Courtney Kalashian, associate director of the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization who also attended today’s event. “Incomes are low and power bills are high. Why not utilize the region's most plentiful resource to bring down those power costs and put more money in people's wallets.  We could easily become a solar valley!" 

The release was hosted by Mr. Ivan Lopez, a homeowner in the Little Long Cheng affordable housing development in Southeast Fresno, where 25 out of 41 homes are solar-powered, together delivering 33 kW of clean energy and saving the homeowners over $389,999 over their 30-year lifetime.

"My desire is to leave a legacy that motivates the next generation to care not only for others but also for our environment,” said Ivan Lopez. “GRID Alternatives brings solar electricity to families that would normally be unable to afford such a valued resource. This brings the community together and helps the environment, preparing for a better future for our communities."

The solar project is an example of the state’s low-income solar program that provides solar rebates for low-income homeowners, while integrating workforce development, energy efficiency, and community engagement. According to Tom Esqueda, regional director for GRID Alternatives, administrator of the Single Family Affordable Solar Homes Program on behalf of the California Public Utilities Commission, “this innovative program has already installed millions of dollars’ worth of solar projects for families in Fresno and other low-income communities statewide."

The report finds that investing in solar brings direct economic and environmental benefits. Every megawatt of solar power installed in the Fresno area prevents the emission of nearly 700 pounds of smog-forming pollution per year. A recent report by The Solar Foundation shows that California is home to over 3,500 solar companies that employ more than 25,000 people and that the market is poised for further growth in 2012.

“I am proud to stand with state and local leaders in praising Fresno’s #4 ranking for solar power capacity in California—above even San Francisco and Sacramento,” said Senator Michael J. Rubio. “Solar power is certainly part of the solution to help create jobs and generate clean power here in the Central Valley.  I look forward to continuing to work with Fresno and other Valley communities as they cement their place as renewable energy leaders.”

Assemblymember Perea said, “It’s great to see Fresno near the top of the list of solar cities in California. Solar energy presents us with a unique opportunity to improve the quality of life for everyone in the Central Valley by creating jobs and improving air quality. I look forward to promoting solar projects in the Central Valley and statewide so we can continue to take advantage of the many benefits of clean energy.”