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PHOENIX -- Phoenix was ranked third among major U.S. cities for the amount of solar installed by the Environment Arizona Research and Policy Group.

It released the findings Thursday in their newest report, "Shining Cities: At the Forefront of America's Solar Energy Revolution."

"It shows the city has made a lot of progress on solar energy," said Bret Fanshaw, an advocate with Environment Arizona and the Environment Arizona Research and Policy Center. "It's a no-brainer that Phoenix, being at the heart of the Valley of the Sun, should rank in the top cities for solar."

The report highlighted some of the benefits of solar energy including the impact solar has on pollution. It stated pollution-free energy from the sun reduces air pollution, a contributing factor in smog and global warming.

Another positive impact of solar energy, according to the report, is on the economy. Arizona has 8,558 solar jobs which place as the second-highest in the U.S.

In February, the Solar Foundation also placed Arizona in the second spot in the nation for the state's number of solar jobs, trailing only California.

"Leaders in Arizona from both party affiliations think solar is important," said Fanshaw.

However, he warned of possible challenges arising for the solar industry.

"Installations are down 40 percent this year."

The Environment Arizona Research and Policy Group called for city leaders to set ambitious goals for residents and businesses to expand the use of solar energy. As an example, the group wants to see more solar panels on public buildings, such as the Phoenix Public Library and downtown parking garages.

Other suggestions from the group include partnerships with the federal government to ensure tax incentives continue. The group praised Arizona's renewable energy standard of 15 percent by 2025 which has played a role in the success of solar in Phoenix.

"It's exciting to see Phoenix to rank so highly among solar cities in the country," Fanshaw added. "We need to continue to build on that progress and not go backward."

Topping the report was Los Angeles, with a cumulative solar PV capacity of 132 megawatts. Following was San Diego, Calif. with 107 megawatts. Phoenix came in third with 96.

Martha Maurer, News Editor

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