- Los Angeles ranks as the top city in the nation for solar power use for the second year in a row, according to an annual report from the the Environment America Research & Policy Center and its state affiliates. San Diego, Phoenix, Honolulu and San Jose, CA rounded out the top five cities with the most installed solar PV capacity.
- Honolulu topped the list of solar energy use per capita, followed by San Diego, San Jose, CA and Burlington, VT.
- All of the cities in the "Shining Cities 2019" report have added solar capacity. According to Environment America, of the 57 cities that have been profiled over six years, nearly 80% have doubled their solar capacity and one-third have more than quadrupled their capacity between 2013 and 2018.
After years of rapid growth, the U.S. now has enough solar to power one in 11 homes, according to the report. Still, Environment America notes that cities could generate "hundreds of times more solar power than they do today." Encouraging installations on large buildings and stand-alone utility-scale installations, the group said, could help further tap cities’ full potential.
The report reinforces the widespread adoption of solar — even in cities not especially known for their sunny weather like Indianapolis, Boston and Portland, OR. That geographic diversity has been mirrored in other solar efforts. A letter publicly released in November saw 216 mayors from all 50 states call for policies to boost solar use, especially at the local level.
"Cities and towns are natural centers of electricity demand, have the rooftops and infrastructure needed for installing solar panels, and can craft policies to help residents and utilities make the switch to solar power," the mayors wrote.
For the first time, Environment America also tracked growth in solar over the past six years, illustrating the effect of dedicated investment and policy. The Shining Cities report recommends that cities set solar adoption goals, implement policies to allow homeowners to generate solar on their property and offer third-party financing options to lower the up-front cost.
Despite headwinds from the federal government, many cities have made renewable energy a centerpiece of their climate change plans.