Energy Department Awards Grants to Solar America Cities

The head of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) said on Friday that the federal government has awarded $2.4 million to 12 cities that are leaders in using solar energy.


At the New Frontiers in Energy Summit 2008 in Denver, DOE Secretary Samuel W. Bodman announced grants of $200 000 to the dozen selected cities that best exemplified a commitment and comprehensive approach to the deployment of solar technologies and the development of sustainable solar infrastructures, in order to make electricity from solar photovoltaics cost-competitive with conventional electricity by 2015.


These so-called Solar America Cities will also receive funds from private resources that should boost the overall benefits of the program to some $12 million this year, the DOE said in a press release on Friday.

"These Solar America Cities aim to jumpstart integration of solar power and encourage other cities across the nation to follow suit," Bodman stated. "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 the 12 new Solar America Cities are: Denver, Houston, Knoxville (Tenn.), Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Orlando, Philadelphia, Sacramento, San Antonio (Tex.), San Jose (Calif.), Santa Rosa (Calif.), and Seattle.


The DOE said it will also provide hands-on assistance from technical experts to 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 2008 Solar America Cities join 13 others from last year, which received $5.4 million from the DOE initiative. Those metropolises consisted of Ann Arbor (Mich.), Austin (Tex.), Berkeley (Calif.), Boston, Madison (Wis.), New Orleans, New York City, Pittsburgh, Portland (Ore.), Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, and Tucson (Az.).


All 25 are expected to adopt a variety of approaches to build up their solar infrastructures and deploy cutting-edge technologies that include solar water heating, photovoltaics, and large-scale solar thermal technology, according to the DOE.


[Editor's Note: Please see our feature "Solar-Cell Squabble", in the current issue, for an update on low-cost organic photovoltaic technology.]


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