Press Release: New campaign calls for the equivalent of one million solar roofs by 2030

On the heels of a primary election that set the slate of candidates for governor, attorney general, and other state offices, advocates and local leaders gathered at the State House today to announce a new campaign calling for ambitious goals for solar energy.

The campaign asks state officials to bring the equivalent of one million solar rooftops — 10 gigawatts of solar capacity — to Massachusetts by 2030.

“Solar power is clean, local, and abundant, and it’s going to play a key role in our transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy,” said Ben Hellerstein, state director for Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center. “With new leaders heading to Beacon Hill, now is the perfect time to set our sights on a brighter future powered by clean energy from the sun.”

At the event, advocates presented a letter signed by more than 150 local elected officials and health professionals supporting the Million Solar Roofs campaign. The letter calls for eliminating unnecessary roadblocks to solar development, ensuring fair compensation for solar generation, and expanding access to solar energy for all Massachusetts residents.

“As an elected official, I see the devastating impact of fossil fuels on the health and well-being of our community,” said Cambridge City Councilor Patty Nolan. “Solar energy is a necessary and feasible part of the solution. The urgency of now means our state leaders must set stronger targets for deployment and recognize that clean energy policy, broadly, and solar panels, specifically represent an avenue for not only environmental progress, but also equity and justice.”

According to a study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, rooftop solar panels could generate up to 47 percent of the electricity currently used in Massachusetts each year.

Today, Massachusetts is among the top ten states in the nation for solar, with nearly 4,000 megawatts of solar capacity installed.

“Massachusetts’ next governor should lay the groundwork for 100% renewable energy,” said Sara Nelson, Clean Energy Organizer at Community Action Works. “The climate bill that the Legislature passed this year is an important step, but more action is needed. Reaching one million solar roofs will help end our reliance on destructive fossil fuels for electricity.”

While not all of the proposed 10 gigawatts of solar energy generation would need to be installed on roofs, advocates said that the state should prioritize solar installations on rooftops and other sites such as parking lot canopies that are close to the places where electricity is consumed. Advocates said that these local solar installations will help to reduce energy costs, increase resiliency, and minimize impacts on natural landscapes.

“Distributed solar is the critical piece in transitioning to an equitable, clean energy future,” said Elena Weissmann, Regional Director, Northeast, for Vote Solar. “It’s affordable, healthy, great for our economy – and it can also be a tool for justice. As we scale up solar and accelerate our transition to a fully clean energy economy, we must use solar as a tool to address historic disparities in environmental harms and energy burdens.”

The Million Solar Roofs campaign will highlight the role of solar energy in preventing climate change, reducing air pollution, and improving public health.

“In my research, I study the effects of climate change on health,” said Lisa Quinn (PhD, NP), Assistant Professor and Nurse Practitioner at Massachusetts General Hospital. “We need to improve air quality for everyone, especially those with asthma or heart failure, who are at higher risk of exacerbations. In my clinical role, I see the life-threatening impacts of our reliance on fossil fuels on people with cancer and sickle cell disease. Increasing the use of solar energy is a public health imperative.”

JOIN THE MOVEMENT Sign up for updates from Vote Solar on solar progress and energy justice across the U.S.