Sacramento – Environment California Research & Policy Center released a new report today comparing the number of rooftop solar power projects installed in cities throughout the state. The report identifies the hubs of the state’s thriving solar economy (detailed in the table below) and shows that Sacramento ranks 7th in the state in terms of the total amount of solar electricity generated, measured in capacity, with 16 megawatts. Sacramento ranks 10th in the state in terms of the number of solar installations on residential, commercial and government buildings, with just over 1,000 projects installed. Most impressive, Sacramento has experienced the greatest rate of solar growth of all major cities, tripling the total amount of solar power installed in the past two years alone.
“Solar power is booming in Sacramento,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, director of clean energy programs at Environment California Research & Policy Center. “Despite the slow economy, Sacramento has found a way to grow one of the most promising clean energy solutions, bringing clean air and jobs to the city.”
Joining Environment California Research & Policy Center in releasing the report, California’s Solar Cities 2012: Leaders in the Race Toward a Clean Energy Future, was Mayor Kevin Johnson, local business leaders, and St. Francis High School staff and students.
“I am proud of today’s recognition by Environment California” said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. “Sacramento and Greenwise Joint Venture, have made a concerted effort to leverage our competitive advantages and make clean energy a priority. We see the results in the statewide data released today and in projects throughout our region. We are also teaching our students that we care about their future. Congratulations to the St. Francis community, SMUD, and Valley Solar. Your collaboration is a perfect example of how an investment in solar makes great business sense for a property owner, creates green jobs, and improves our environment.”
The popularity of solar power in Sacramento is in no small part attributed do the willingness of the city’s utility, SMUD, as well as other local leaders and the public in general, to embrace this technology and foster its growth. SMUD has long been a leader in the country in experimenting with creative ways to grow solar power through direct rebates, new solar homes and other policies designed to get more people going solar.
The release was hosted by St. Francis High School in Sacramento, the site of a newly installed 253 KW system on seven buildings. The solar installation will generate thirty-one (31%) of the campus electricity usage generating an estimated $1 million in energy cost savings to the school over the next 20 years.
“Due to the tremendous benefits of solar energy for the Sacramento area, and thanks to the support of community partners like SMUD and Mayor Johnson, Valley Solar has experienced exponential growth over the last 12 months,” said Brad Price, President of Valley Solar. This has led to the creation of permanent jobs for skilled workers in the rapidly growing field of green energy, which is exactly what our local economy needs.”
The report finds that investing in solar is not only a sound economic decision for California’s cities, but brings direct environmental benefits. Every megawatt of solar power installed in the Sacramento area prevents the emission of nearly 700 pounds of smog-forming pollution per year.
Environment California and allies are advocating that local and state leaders continue to push big, bold policy initiatives to capitalize on California’s tremendous untapped solar potential. Governor Jerry Brown has called for a significant expansion of California’s rooftop solar market by putting out a vision of installing 12 gigawatts (a gigawatt is 1000 megawatts, or twelve times California’s current solar rooftop market) by 2020. Mayor Johnson is one of more than 60 elected officials statewide who have endorsed Governor Brown’s vision. Other area endorsers include Sacramento Assembly member Roger Dickinson, Davis Assembly member Mariko Yamada, Sacramento Vice Mayor Bonnie Pannell, and Sacramento council members Steven Cohn and Jay Schenirer.
“California shouldn’t bask in the sunshine when it comes to solar power,” said Del Chiaro. “Instead we should turn up the heat and increase our solar market twelve fold in the next eight years. With the right policies, we can do it and bring twelve times the benefits in terms of jobs and a cleaner environment”