Sixty-four U.S. cities are now home to almost as much solar capacity as the entire country had installed at the end of 2010, according to a new report from Environment America and the Frontier Group.
The report, titled “Shining Cities 2016: How Smart Local Policies Are Expanding Solar Power in America,” ranks the U.S.’ major cities for their solar power. It says the U.S. now has more than 27,000 MW of cumulative solar electric capacity, and as of the end of 2015, the 64 cities covered in the report have installed over 1,700 MW of PV.
Los Angeles (215 MW), San Diego (189 MW) and Phoenix (147 MW) topped the list for most solar power in the research and policy center study, titled “Shining Cities 2016: How Smart Local Policies Are Expanding Solar Power in America.”
In addition, the report shows Honolulu (417 W), Indianapolis (146 W) and San Jose (139 W) have the most solar panels per capita.
Plummeting costs, environmental concerns and technological innovation have all played a role in spurring the growth of solar energy, which was enough to power 5.4 million American homes last year, according to the report.
The report finds cities at the vanguard of the nation’s solar boom, with the top 20 solar cities – representing just 0.1% of U.S. land area – accounting for 6% of U.S. solar PV capacity at the end of 2015.
“The cities that are adding solar power the fastest are those that have made it a policy priority,” says Kim Norman, policy analyst at the Frontier Group and a report co-author. “This report shows that government is a key player in the effort to repower the U.S. with renewable energy.”
Environment America says that while solar power is soaring, utility companies are campaigning intensely to increase fees for rooftop solar, which they see as a direct threat to their business model.
Further, the U.S. Supreme Court has also stalled the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which would cap carbon pollution from power plants and provide incentives for clean energy.
Environment America says it praises the cities leading the way on solar in spite of these attacks.
Along with its state affiliates, the organization has partnered with mayors around the country to release the findings of Shining Cities 2016.
“San Diego continues to lead the way in solar energy and remains a shining example to other cities when it comes to improving our environment through innovation,” says San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. “Increasing solar energy will help reach our goal of 100 percent renewable energy use in the city by 2035 – a key element of San Diego’s landmark Climate Action Plan.”
“Honolulu continues to move forward toward a clean, sustainable energy future, and we are honored to be recognized by Environment America again for the city’s efforts to expand solar at municipal facilities,” says Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “Last year, we successfully completed PV installation at our Kapolei Corporation Yard, which will reduce oil consumption and save taxpayers money over time on energy costs. This year, we are designing systems at four more corporation yards and at our H-POWER waste-to-energy plant, and this is just the beginning.”
The full report is available here.