San Diego, CA – San Diego has more solar panels than most major cities, ranking 2nd among major U.S. cities two years in a row, according to a new report by Environment California Research & Policy Center. The solar stature of the city was owed largely to the clear solar commitment of the city’s leaders as well as streamlined and predictable permitting fees, said Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Councilmember Todd Gloria and advocates who gathered at an affordable housing complex in Council District 3 that is powered by solar energy.
“San Diego is one of the country’s brightest stars when it comes to solar power,” said Dan Jacobson, program director of Environment California. “As California leaders—Governor Brown, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins—aim to have 50% of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2030, San Diego is turning its commitment to solar power into a clean energy future.”
“This is even more proof that San Diego is an innovation hub and a strong leader in renewable energy sources,” said Rep. Susan Davis, a member of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition. “Continued federal support for solar energy and other renewable sources must be a priority. San Diego should be proud of this ranking. Now let’s go for that top spot!"
Los Angeles again topped the list for most solar power installations in the analysis, Shining Cities. However, San Diego is gaining on the lead set by its southern California neighbor, installing 42 megawatts of solar power during 2014 as compared to L.A.’s 38 megawatts over the same time.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said the city has been aggressively pushing forward on solar-energy initiatives for years and the ranking shows those efforts are paying off with real results.
“San Diego is leading the way in solar energy and that’s going to help us meet many of our City’s environmental goals and put San Diegans back to work,” Faulconer said. “Solar energy is a key element to the City’s proposed Climate Action Plan, which calls for 100 percent renewable energy use in the City by 2035.”
According to researchers who examined solar power installations in 65 American cities in nearly every state, San Diego had enough solar energy online at the end of last year to power just over 32,000 homes.
“The fact that our City ranks second nationwide in solar proves that this option makes both environmental and business sense for San Diegans,” said Councilmember Todd Gloria. “As the author of San Diego’s ambitious Climate Action Plan, I support solar to ensure we reach our goal of transitioning to 100% renewable energy by 2035.”
On a solar-per-person basis, San Diego also scored well, ranking 4th behind Honolulu, Indianapolis and San Jose. For the second year in a row, San Diego easily beat Los Angeles in solar-per-person, which ranked 15th nationwide.
Solar power is on the rise across the country, with another panel or project installed every three minutes last year. Plummeting costs, increasing public concern over global warming and energy independence, and technological innovation have all played a role in spurring the growth of the pollution-free energy source.
“The incredible success of solar adoption in California is directly related to the key role played by the California Solar Initiative and the U.S. DOE’s Rooftop Solar Challenge Program in promoting solar technologies and helping to lower the hard costs and soft costs of solar systems for consumers at all levels,” said Len Hering, executive director of the Center for Sustainable Energy. “In addition, California cities, counties and utilities benefitted from the creation of legislation, ordinances and policies that work effectively to expedite solar permitting, installation and interconnection that can serve as models nationwide.”
Today’s press conference was held at the Bridgeport affordable housing complex, which boasts a 66.5 kilowatt solar panel system installed by Everyday Energy in 2012. Thanks to virtual net metering, a policy that allows multifamily residents to receive direct benefits from their building’s clean energy system, Bridgeport’s solar panels are providing clean energy and lower electricity bills to the residents in 42 units as well as 6 common areas.
“Everyday Energy is thrilled to be part of the event,” said the company’s CEO and Co-Founder Scott Sarem. “We have worked very hard to provide solar PV to low income renters and have been working closely with legislative leaders and the California Public Utilities Commission to make multi-family affordable housing solar a reality. Bridgeport is a shining example of how virtual net metering can be used to directly benefit low income renters. Great public policy is helping to bridge the green divide.”
While solar power is growing in California and throughout the nation, utility companies are campaigning intensely to increase fees for rooftop solar, which they see as a direct threat to their business model.
“With prices going down and concern about global warming going up, solar power is growing rapidly in our state,” said Jacobson. “We need California leaders to continue the policies that allow solar to shine.”
U.S. Cities by Cumulative Installed Solar PV Capacity, End of 2014