South Miami just made a huge rooftop solar decision

Jul 24, 2017 by

Miami is doing what it can to reduce its carbon footprint

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South Miami just made a huge rooftop solar decisionIn this Feb. 26, 2015 file photo, solar panels that are part of the Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association’s community gardens are shown in Rockford, Minn. Plunging solar power costs are leading U.S. electric companies to capture the sun just when President Donald Trump is moving to boost coal and other fossil fuels. Major electric utilities are moving into smaller-scale solar farming, a niche developed by local cooperatives and non-profits. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)(Credit: AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)
This article originally appeared on Climate Central.

South Miami this week became the first city outside of California to require all new homes to install solar panels on their roofs. Six cities in the Golden State began requiring solar to be installed on new homes over the past few years. But in Florida, where voters killed proposed solar restrictions last year, South Miami is now a pioneer.

This week, the South Miami City Commission in a 4-1 vote approved a law requiring solar panels to be installed on all new homes built in the city.

Mayor Philip Stoddard says the city is trying to cut its carbon footprint because the region will be deeply affected by climate change, especially as sea levels rise.

“We’re down in South Florida where climate change and sea level rise are existential threats, so we’re looking for every opportunity to promote renewable energy,” Stoddard said. “It’s carbon reduction, plain and simple. We have a pledge for carbon neutrality. We support the Paris Climate Agreement.”

Stoddard said he expects only a few new homes and other buildings to be built in South Miami this year because the city of about 11,000 is surrounded on all sides by dense urban development and has very little space for new construction. But the requirement for new homes complements the city’s push for existing homeowners to put solar on their roofs.

The new law won’t put solar panels on all the region’s homes and it won’t significantly cut climate pollution, but it is the first concrete step by a city outside of California to require renewable energy to be considered as part of the design of any new home.

It also sets an example for other cities that may be considering doing the same thing.

Action to expand renewables on the local level is critical at a time when the federal government has stepped back from advocating for renewable energy, said Jeremy Firestone, director of the Center for Carbon-free Power Integration at the University of Delaware.

Rooftop solar helps wean America’s electric power system off coal and natural gas power plants that pollute the atmosphere with large amounts of carbon dioxide. President Obama made support for rooftop solar a part of his Climate Action Plan, which the Trump administration has abandoned.

“These mandates will have an effect locally,” Firestone said. “As to the larger effect, they would hopefully move states to increase the fraction of (electricity) generation that has to be dedicated toward renewable energy.”

Solar installation mandates would also help accelerate the acceptance of rooftop solar across the country, said K Kaufmann, spokeswoman for the Smart Electric Power Alliance, a nonpartisan renewable energy education organization in Washington, D.C.

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