California’s Top Ten Solar Cities


This week our friends at Environment California released a new report ranking California cities by the amount of solar they’ve installed. The good news?

“From Fresno to San Francisco and Clovis to Culver City, solar power is becoming a mainstream technology throughout California,” said Michelle Kinman, clean energy advocate with Environment California Research & Policy Center and co-author of the report. “Solar power is booming in California and with the right leadership we can continue to benefit from the cleaner air and local jobs that this industry inevitably brings.”

The state has doubled its solar capacity in just two years, with 1 GW of rooftop solar today – the equivalent of two traditional fossil fuel power plants. And, most exciting, plenty of that growth is happening in cities and towns that you might not typically associate with clean energy . . .

City Solar Capacity (MWAC) Rank by Capacity Number of Installations Rank by Installations
San Diego 37 1 4,507 1
Los Angeles 36 2 4,018 2
San Jose 31 3 2,733 3
Fresno 22 4 2,146 5
San Francisco 17 5 2,405 4
Bakersfield 16 6 1,643 6
Sacramento 16 7 1,119 10
Santa Rosa 14 8 1,467 7
Oakland 10 9 1,010 11
Chico 9 10 615 19
Clovis 8 11 1,133 9
Roseville 3 84 1,170 8

Huge congrats to San Diego for topping the list! As Mayor Sanders said: “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.” Good work, we say.

Chico, Woodland, Rancho Cordova, Livermore and Petaluma ranks top for “mid-size cities.” Sonoma, Auburn Oroville, Healdsburg and Newman have the most solar installed per capita in the “large town” category. And of the state’s “small towns,” Herald, Edwards AFB, Lebec, Maxwell, and Middletown rank highest.

Our own Executive Director Adam Browning added: “Solar used to have a reputation of being for the hip and hippy. This analysis shows that solar is benefiting all Californians–solar’s just as much Fresno and Chico as it is Santa Cruz and Sebastopol. People all across the state are lowering utility bills and creating good jobs by tapping into the sun.”

Governor Jerry Brown has called for expanding California’s solar market to 12 gigawatts by 2020. To date, more than 60 elected officials statewide have endorsed Governor Brown’s vision. Vote Solar, Environment California and allies are advocating that local and state leaders continue to push big policy initiatives to continue expansion of one of California’s strongest markets. First and foremost is ensuring that Californians continue to have access to net metering – the policy that allows a homeowner or business to receive a credit on their electric bill to offset electricity usage during the night.

It may sound wonky but net metering has delivered tremendous benefits to the Golden State:

California’s solar industry employs more than 25,000 workers. Solar job growth has been ten times higher than the overall economy, providing a rare bright spot during the recession.

Solar has driven $10 billion in private investment in the state over the past 5 years, making it a real economic engine.

Cash-strapped public agencies will save $2.5 billion in electricity costs of the next 30 years by going solar. Schools alone will save $1.5 billion.

Rooftop solar has reduced the need for California ratepayers to invest in expensive and polluting peak generation and the transmission infrastructure needed to carry it.

Local solar business innovation and scale that has effectively driven costs down and made solar more accessible to more Californians. Since 2009, 2/3 of California’s home solar installations have been in median income zip codes.

And as we see in today’s report, those installations are happening all over the state. California’s stable, transparent, long-term net metering policy has been key to its solar success. Help us urge state lawmakers to continue support for rooftop solar and net metering here.

Vote Solar is a non-profit grassroots organization working to fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream.



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