Solar power more than doubled in most major US cities over past six years

Over the past six years, solar energy capacity more than doubled in 45 of 57 largest cities in the USA, according to a new study »Shining Cities 2019: The Top U.S. Cities for Solar Energy« released by Environment America Research & Policy Center. According to the report, solar power is expanding rapidly. The United States now has over 60 GW of solar PV capacity installed. America’s major cities have played a key role. The amount of solar power installed in just 20 U.S. cities exceeds the amount installed in the entire United States at the end of 2010. Of the 57 cities surveyed in all six editions of this report, 79 percent more than doubled their total installed solar PV capacity between 2013 and 2018. One-third of the 57 cities more than quadrupled their installed solar PV capacity from 2013 to 2018.
In 2013, only eight of the cities surveyed for this report had 50 or more watts of solar PV capacity installed per capita and were ranked as »Solar Stars« - in 2018 the authors count 23 cities having earned the title. Honolulu leads the United States for solar power per person, followed by San Diego, San Jose and Burlington, Vermont.
Los Angeles leads the nation in total installed solar PV capacity among the 69 cities surveyed in this report; as it did from 2013 to 2015 and in 2017, after briefly being topped by San Diego in 2016. Since 2016, Los Angeles has added over 150 MW of solar capacity.
According to the findings, leading solar cities can be found in every region of the country. Leaders in per capita solar capacity by census region include Honolulu in the Pacific region; Las Vegas in the Mountain region; Indianapolis in the North Central region; San Antonio in the South Central region; Washington, D.C., in the South Atlantic region; and Burlington, Vermont, in the Northeast region.
Furthermore, many smaller cities and towns »are also going big on solar energy.« Santa Fe, New Mexico, had 19 MW of cumulative solar PV capacity installed as of the end of 2018, equivalent to 225 watts per person. »That’s more solar PV capacity per capita than any city on our list other than Honolulu and San Diego.« Tallahassee, Florida, has enough solar PV capacity installed (30 MW total and 157 watts per person) to be ranked as a leading »Solar Star.«
On the other hand, fossil fuel interests and some utilities »are working to slow the growth of distributed solar energy,« says the consultancy. »Some states and utilities are now targeting solar customers with special fees, charges and rate designs in order to reduce the appeal and financial promise of installing solar panels.« These changes, such as imposing demand charges and other electric bill fees only on solar customers specifically, »could cause solar panel owners to pay as much for electricity as other customers, even though they consume less electricity from the grid.«
To take advantage of the nation’s vast solar potential and move America toward an economy powered by 100 percent renewable energy, city, state and federal governments should adopt a series of strong pro-solar policies, demands Environment America Research. Local governments should establish goals for solar energy adoption and programs to meet those goals, implement solar access ordinances to protect residents’ right to generate solar energy on their own property, and should expand access to solar energy to apartment dwellers, low-income residents, small businesses and nonprofits through community solar projects and third-party financing options, such as power purchase agreements, suggests the organization.
Furthermore, government and communities have to implement policies that support energy storage, electric vehicle smart charging and microgrids, and require new homes and buildings to be built with solar panels, or at least be constructed to be »solar-ready.«
Moreover, the federal government should, among other things, »continue and expand financing support for solar energy, particularly the Solar Investment Tax Credit, which provides a 30 percent tax credit for the cost of installing solar panels. The credit should be extended to apply to energy storage systems, such as home batteries.«
»Shining Cities 2019: The Top U.S. Cities for Solar Energy« released by Environment America Research & Policy Center, is available free of charge at »«.

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