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Michelle Kinman,
Environment California

New Report: San Diego #1 in State for Solar Roofs

City Doubles Amount of Solar Roofs in Past Two Years
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New Report: San Diego #1 in State for Solar Roofs

City Doubles Amount of Solar Roofs in Past Two Years

San Diego, CA (Jan. 24, 2012) – Environment California Research & Policy Center released a new report today cataloging the amount of solar power installed by cities across the state, as of the third quarter of 2011. The report identifies the hubs of the state’s thriving solar economy and shows that San Diego leads all California cities in terms of the number of solar roofs installed, with more than 4,500 projects on residential, commercial and government buildings. San Diego also leads the state in terms of the total amount of electricity generated by these systems, measured in solar capacity, with nearly 37 megawatts installed.

“San Diego is America’s solar city,” said Michelle Kinman, clean energy advocate with Environment California Research & Policy Center and co-author of the report, California’s Solar Cities 2012: Leaders in the Race Toward a Clean Energy Future. “Thousands of solar roofs are helping turn San Diego’s famous sunshine into clean air and local jobs. With the right leadership, San Diego can continue to lead the nation in transitioning to a clean energy future.”

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders spoke at the event, reaffirming his commitment to expanding San Diego’s thriving solar market.

“San Diego didn’t become the state’s No. 1 solar city by happenstance; it was the result of local policies and programs that encourage investment in solar power,” said Mayor Sanders. “Collaborating with leaders in the photovoltaic industry, the building industry, nonprofit partners and our utility, we’ll continue to find new strategies and incentives to that will maintain the strong pace of solar adoption in San Diego.”

Joining Environment California Research & Policy Center and Mayor Sanders for the report release were local leaders, solar businesses, and clean energy and green jobs advocates. One of the key reasons San Diego has been so successful in installing solar, according to Environment California, is the local leadership provided by the community. In the past two years, San Diego has doubled the amount of rooftop solar power installed. From 1999 through 2009, San Diego installed just over 2,000 solar rooftop systems totaling over 19 MW.

See full report here.

"San Diego's #1 solar status is the result of innovative state and local policies aimed at growing the solar industry, such as the California Solar Initiative, which has provided clear, well-designed support for solar," said Andrew McAllister, director of policy and strategy at the California Center for Sustainable Energy, administrators of the initiative in San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) territory. "The collaboration, entrepreneurship and vision that underpin San Diego's solar success are fundamental for scaling up solar adoption statewide in the next few years. We still have many more rooftops to reach."

Governor Jerry Brown has called for a significant expansion of California’s rooftop solar market by putting out a vision of installing 12 gigawatts by 2020 (a gigawatt is 1000 megawatts, or twelve times California’s current solar rooftop market). Mayor Sanders is one of more than 60 elected officials statewide who have endorsed Governor Brown’s vision. Other San Diego endorsers include Congressman Bob Filner, Senator Christine Kehoe, Assemblymembers Marty Block and Toni Atkins, and Councilmembers David Alvarez and Marti Emerald.

“I am proud of San Diego’s #1 ranking in roof-top solar two years in a row,” said Senator Christine Kehoe.  “More solar power means green jobs and a better environment – two wins for our region.”

“San Diego is California’s city in the sun, but it’s not our weather that keeps us on the cutting edge, it’s our people, our businesses, and our commitment to jobs through a clean environment,” said Assemblymember Toni Atkins. “San Diego is at the center of California’s thriving solar economy with 37 megawatts of solar power. Simply put, solar energy means jobs for San Diego, and I’m all for that.”

Environment California and allies are advocating that local and state leaders continue to push big, bold policy initiatives to continue expansion of one of California’s strongest new markets. A recent report by the Solar Energy Industry Association shows that California is home to over 3,000 solar companies that employ more than 25,000 people and that the market is poised for further growth in 2012.

“Today is testimony to the excitement and interest San Diegans have about solar energy,” said Nicole Capretz, associate director of the Environmental Health Coalition. “We are just beginning to tap into the potential and the opportunity to blanket the city's rooftops with solar panels, create jobs and increase our energy independence."

Key steps moving forward include: expanding net metering – the ability for a homeowner or business to receive a solar credit on their electric bill to offset electricity usage during the night; adopting a strong feed-in-tariff program to enable owners of warehouses and parking lots to generate wholesale solar electricity; and mandating that all new buildings be equipped with solar systems.

The San Diego release event was hosted by Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU), which has a 620 kW DC solar photovoltaic system installed by SPG Solar on six rooftops and five solar carports. The solar electric system will provide the university a savings of $1.5 million over the next 20 years and will power nearly 50% of the campus energy demands during peak periods.

"It's been almost 30 years since Kyocera sold its first solar module in San Diego, and we now have regional production capacity approaching 200 megawatts annually," said John Rigby, president of Kyocera International, Inc., which supplied the PV panels for Point Loma Nazarene University through Kyocera Solar, Inc., its subsidiary. "Kyocera's 200 megawatt production capacity is enough to supply solar electric systems for about 50,000 homes each year, and yet the industry itself is still very young. We foresee unprecedented growth, especially for solar installers, as California pursues its goal to have 12 gigawatts of solar generation statewide over the next decade."

“PLNU strives to be forward thinking and take a leadership role in sustainability efforts and environmental stewardship,” said Dr. Bob Brower, president of PLNU. “The stewardship of resources is one of our core values. This solar project is the result of dedicated work from students, faculty and staff that united around the common interest of bringing clean renewable energy to campus.”

See full report here.