Honolulu – Mayor Kirk Caldwell has co-signed a public letter with the Mayors for Solar Energy to reiterate his support for clean, renewable energy (letter attached). The bipartisan group of 180 U.S. mayors, representing cities large and small in 42 states, resolve to make solar power a key element of their communities’ energy plans and call on others to embrace clean energy from the sun.
“Solar on thousands of homes and government buildings is helping Honolulu reach our sustainable energy goals,” said Mayor Caldwell. “We are on the front lines of sea level rise and other climate change effects and we must drastically reduce our use of fossil fuels. My administration is working to expedite permits for photovoltaic and battery storage systems and the results are clear.”
The move by mayors to promote solar power comes at a time when the federal administration is rolling back Obama-era policies aimed at reducing climate emissions and encouraging renewable energy.
“Oʻahu moved up to 21 percent renewable in 2017 from 19 percent the year before, and the lion’s share of that growth came from private rooftop solar installation,” said Josh Stanbro, the City and County of Honolulu’s Chief Resilience Officer. “Local governments and cities are leading on climate change policy right now, and our residents are also stepping in to help build a solar future from the ground up.”
The commitment from Mayor Caldwell to accelerate the transition to solar comes on the heels of a new report released by Environment America called “Shining Cities: How Smart Local Policies are Expanding Solar Power in America.” The report found that Honolulu ranks first in the nation for installed solar capacity per capita in the United States. Honolulu also jumped up to the No. 3 slot for total solar installed in a city. For a link to the Environment America report, click here.
“It is really exciting to see Honolulu rise in the rankings of volume of overall solar capacity,” said Aki Marceau of Elemental Excelerator, a nonprofit that has funded 35 clean energy, transportation, water, and agriculture projects with startups in Hawai‘i. “Local businesses, utilities, and state and city agencies have stepped up to make this possible. We hope to see this kind of engagement with new, clean technologies beyond solar.”
In 2016, nearly 2,000 people were employed in solar jobs on Oʻahu, and solar permits issued in February 2018 on Oʻahu were 26 percent higher than the previous year – signaling the potential for expanded growth in the sector through 2018. Mayor Caldwell and the city’s Department of Planning and Permitting have been working with the renewable energy industry to streamline battery storage and photovoltaic (PV) approvals, which helped lead to the expansion.
William Giese, Executive Director of the Hawaiʻi Solar Energy Association, lauded the commitment by Mayor Caldwell and pledged to continue to keep Honolulu at the top of the list. “The Hawaiʻi Solar Energy Association will continue to work with Mayor Caldwell and the City and County of Honolulu to bring more solar to Oʻahu, lower electric bills, increase customer choice, and drive Hawaiʻi towards 100 percent clean energy.”
While residents can save money with solar panels on their roof, the entire community benefits from increased renewable energy production.
“Cities everywhere should take steps to switch to solar energy,” said Emma Searson, Environment America’s Go Solar Campaign Coordinator. “By tapping into the power of the sun, cities can benefit from cleaner air and improved public health, while simultaneously tackling climate change.”