12 New Solar America Cities Earn $200,000 Grants
DENVER, Colorado, March 31, 2008 (ENS) - Twelve cities have been selected to become Solar America Cities that will receive federal grant funding and technical help to install solar technologies.

Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman announced Friday that the federal government will make available up to $2.4 million to the 12 cities, which he says were chosen for their commitment and comprehensive approach to the deployment of solar technologies and the development of sustainable solar infrastructures.

"These Solar America Cities aim to jumpstart integration of solar power and encourage other cities across the nation to follow suit," Secretary Bodman said, making the announcement at the New Frontiers in Energy Summit 2008 in Denver.

Denver is one of the 12 cities that will be one of the Solar America Cities along with the Texas cities of Houston and San Antonio; and the California cities of Sacramento, San Jose, and Santa Rosa.

The other cities selected are - Knoxville, Tennessee; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota; Orlando, Florida; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Seattle, Washington.

Workers intall solar panels on the Colorado Governor's Mansion in Denver. (Photo by David Parsons courtesy NREL)

Colorado Governor Bill Ritter today congratulated Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and the city. "This national award recognizes Denver's greening efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and incorporate clean, renewable sources of power," the governor said. "The Solar America grant will further stimulate our renewable energy industry, protect our natural environment, increase our energy security and advance Colorado's New Energy Economy."

"This award is a great honor for Denver," Mayor Hickenlooper said. "It affirms all that our City team and our community have accomplished under our Greenprint Denver action agenda, and it provides funding for us to accomplish even more."

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels said today that Seattle will leverage the $200,000 federal grant with $200,000 in local funds to promote the development of a sustainable solar energy infrastructure.

"Climate change is a very real threat to the future of our city and our planet. We must expand our options for clean, renewable power. Developing solar energy as a reliable power source will do just that," said Nickels, who launched the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement in 2005.

More than 800 other U.S. cities encompassing 79 million Americans, now have committed to enacting policies and programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Seattle's partners in developing itself as a Solar America city are Northwest Sustainable Energy for Economic Development, SEED, and the Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development.

"Northwest SEED is excited to work with the city to overcome the barriers to widespread deployment of solar energy," said Executive Director Jennifer Grove. "We look forward to demonstrating a community-based approach to meet Seattle's clean energy needs."

Each city will receive $200,000 from the Department of Energy. Combined with industry cost share and funding from each city, total investment in all 12 cities is estimated at $12.1 million.

Cities selected are geographically diverse and have varying degrees of solar resources and experience with solar technologies. Each city will adopt a variety of approaches to building up their solar infrastructure and deploying cutting-edge technologies.

The technologies include industrial strength projects such as concentrating solar power and large-scale solar thermal technology as well as individual applications such as solar water heating, and solar photovoltaic panels that turn sunlight directly into electricity.

"The innovative programs already underway in each city will help us raise the bar of what's possible, and will help cities and towns across America harness the tremendous potential of the Sun," Bodman said.

Subject to appropriation of the funds by Congress, the Energy Department will provide $3 million worth of technical assistance to the newly named Solar America Cities. Technical experts would help cities integrate solar technologies into energy planning, zoning and facilities; streamline local regulations and practices that affect solar adoption by residents and businesses; present solar financing options; and promote solar technology among residents and local businesses through outreach, curriculum development, and incentive programs.

The 12 new Solar America Cities join the 13 cities that were selected last year - Ann Arbor, Michigan; Austin, Texas; Boston, Massachusetts; Madison, Wisconsin; New Orleans, Louisiana; New York City; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Portland, Oregon; Salt Lake City, Utah; Tucson, Arizona; and three California cities - Berkeley, San Diego, and San Francisco.

The Solar America Cities First Annual Meeting is set for April 14 to 16 in sunny Tucson, Arizona.

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