U.S. Cities Embracing Solar Power, Report Finds

BOSTON — Several major American cities are embracing solar energy, with 20 cities accounting for almost 7 percent of the nation’s total solar capacity, according to a new report.

The report, “Shining Cities,” from Environment America, a Boston-based collaboration of citizen-funded environmental advocacy organizations, released the report on March 26. The report found Los Angeles, San Diego and Phoenix topped the list for the most solar power installations, while Honolulu, Indianapolis and San Jose, Calif., led the way for the most solar panels per capita.

“These cities are shining examples of solar power’s promise,” Rob Sargent, energy program director at Environment America and co-author of the report, said in a statement. “The fact is, solar is good for cities, and cities are good for solar.”

While southeastern and southwestern cities dominated the rankings, cities outside the nation’s Sun Belt earning recognition in the researchers’ “solar sweet sixteen” included Wilmington, Del., Newark, N.J., and New York City.

Researchers found that solar power is on the rise across the country, with a solar panel or project installed every three minutes in 2014. 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.

In the face of solar power’s rising popularity and feasibility, however, utilities across the country are campaigning to increase fees for rooftop solar, which they see as a direct threat to their business model.

As population centers, cities are home to large electricity markets and can have an important influence on the way grids are powered. From Portland, Ore., to New Orleans to Jersey City, N.J., city leaders are embracing solar initiatives, according to a press release from Environment America. Mayors from across the country joined the organization to release the report.

“With prices going down and concern about global warming going up, solar power is growing rapidly across the country,” Sargent said in a statement. “We need federal, state and even more city leaders to embrace the policies that allow solar to shine.”

Top 10 Solar Cities by Total Installed Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Capacity:
1. Los Angeles
2. San Diego
3. Phoenix
4. Indianapolis
5. San Jose, Calif.
6. Honolulu
7. San Antonio
8. Denver, Colo.
9. New York
10. New Orleans