Solar Energy Awards Honor Green Energy Progress in Bay Area Cities

BERKELEY, Calif. — Cities throughout the Bay Area were honored for their efforts to expand solar energy projects during the inaugural City Solar Awards at the Berkeley City Club.

Hosted by the NorCal Solar Energy Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of solar technology and energy, the awards recognize solar photovoltaic technology developments across the residential, commercial and public sectors.

“We are here to thank all these cities for what they are doing right now and for their future plans to promote even more solar energy in their communities,” says Tom Starrs, NorCal advisor and board member of the American Solar Energy Society.

Small, medium and large cities from 10 Bay Area counties competed for awards in the categories of the number of solar installations, the total amount of watts installed and the amount of watts per capita.

Sonoma took home the award for small cities — less than 10,000 residents — in the category for largest amount of watts installed, while Rohnert Park picked up the award for medium-sized cities — 10,000 to 50,000 residents.

With 6 million watts installed, Oakland beat out competition from neighboring San Francisco and Santa Rosa, with 4.5 million and 4.2 million installed watts, respectively, to win the large city award — more than 50,000 residents.

(Above) Representatives from the cities of Berkeley, Mountain View, Napa, Oakland, Pleasanton, San Francisco, San Jose and Santa Rosa accept City Solar Awards from Tom Starrs [right].  (Below)  Former Mayor of Berkeley Loni Hancock speaks about the growth of solar energy in Bay Area cities at NorCal’s inaugural City Solar Awards.

San Jose won the large city award for the greatest number of solar installations, with 491 systems installed, narrowly beating San Francisco with its 483 new solar systems.

Relying on publicly available data compiled by NorCal, the City Solar Awards are based on the number and capacity of grid-tied photovoltaic systems installed during 2006.

More than 31,000 photovoltaic systems of varying capacities are in operation throughout California, generating almost 350 megawatts of solar power, according to NorCal.

Government support at the municipal and local levels has played a significant role in the sustained growth of solar energy installations in California, according to the Norcal report.

Other factors driving the solar expansion include solar-friendly utility rates, net metering programs, and the heightened public awareness generated through high-profile political initiatives, such as the Vote Solar campaign of 2000.

In 2007, state lawmakers implemented the Million Solar Roofs incentive program, which commits more than $3 billion toward the creation of approximately 3,000 megawatts of solar energy installations during the next 10 years.

Based in Davis, Calif., NorCal inaugurated the City Solar Awards to foster continued investment in solar energy technologies at the municipal and county levels, and to raise public awareness of the benefits of solar energy, officials say.

NorCal Solar Energy Association:

For a complete list of award winners:

To view NorCal’s 2007 Bay Area Solar Installations report:

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