Fully 15 cities now have achieved “Solar Star” status with more than 50 watts of solar power installed per person. That’s just one finding from Environment America’s “Shining Cities 2016” report. It found that 64 major cities across the U.S. are using almost as much solar power as the entire country had installed at the end of 2010—1.7 gigawatts. It’s the latest in a series of reports the nonprofit advocacy organization has issued in support of solar power.
With 215 megawatts of solar power serving Los Angeles is the clear leader. In terms of watts per person installed Honolulu was first with 417 watts of solar panels installed per person. That’s more than one solar panel per person! However, the city was 4th in terms of overall solar power installed with 146 megawatts serving its residents. Other leading cities were San Diego and Phoenix, according to the report.
“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,” said 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.”
Local leadership was cited as a key driver for the growth of solar in these communities. “Thanks to forward-thinking policies and the vision of local government leaders,” said Bret Fanshaw, Environment America’s Solar Program coordinator and report co-author. “These cities really shine when it comes to solar power.”
“As population centers, cities are home to ample rooftop space and large electricity markets,” Environment America stated. “Through power purchase agreements, promoting community solar programs, and installing solar on government property, city governments can play a leading role in developing solar energy.”
Some cities among the leaders may surprise. Among them are Indianapolis and Jacksonville, Fla., which the report found had 124 megawatts and 24 megawatts, respectively.
“The cities that are adding solar power the fastest are those that have made it a policy priority,” explained Frontier Group Policy Analyst and report co-author Kim Norman. “This report shows that government is a key player in the effort to repower the U.S. with renewable energy.”
In addition to local government leadership the report also cited the reduced costs of solar panels, environmental concerns, and technological innovation.
The report also noted that even as the use solar power is growing across the U.S. it’s facing more threats. Chief among them are efforts at many utility companies to increase rooftop solar fees and the U.S. Supreme Court’s action against the Clean Power Plan.Tweet