New study ranks Phoenix in top ten U.S. cities for solar

Media Contacts
Johanna Neumann

Senior Director, Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy, Environment America

Johanna Neumann

Senior Director, Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy, Environment America

Phoenix ranked no. 7 in the U.S. for total installed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in the latest edition of the Environment Arizona Research & Policy Center’s report Shining Cities: The Top U.S. Cities for Solar Energy. The report, which is the eighth edition of America’s most comprehensive survey of installed solar PV capacity in major U.S. cities, designates Arizona’s capital city a ‘Solar Superstar,’ meaning it boasts 100 or more watts of solar PV capacity installed per capita. 

According to the research, Phoenix is home to 342 megawatts of total solar capacity, which comes out to about 213 watts per person. In addition to ranking seventh in the nation for its total solar capacity, the city comes in ninth for per capita installed capacity. 

“Not only is Phoenix the heart of the Valley of the Sun, but it’s also at the heart of American solar power,” said Johanna Neumann, senior director of Environment Arizona Research & Policy Center’s Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy. “This ‘Solar Superstar’ is a shining example of just how far Phoenix has come toward tapping the immense power of the sun since the first Earth Day in 1970. Phoenix’s leadership on solar to date has brought cleaner air and a more secure future for its residents. That’s something to celebrate, on Earth Day and every day.”

The City of Phoenix has installed solar panels on an extensive list of city buildings and facilities and has adopted a goal of becoming a carbon neutral city that operates on 100% clean energy.  

“It is a testament to the power and promise of solar energy that the amount of solar installed in our leading cities is greater than the amount of solar that existed across the entire nation only a decade ago,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. “Phoenix is proud to be a Shining City, and we aim to dramatically increase our solar portfolio as we work toward net-zero municipal operations by 2030, net-zero community-wide by 2050, and becoming the most sustainable desert city on the planet.”

Beyond the findings in Arizona, this edition of the survey tracked data through December 2021, finding that the United States now has 121.4 gigawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity installed. That’s enough solar energy to power more than 23 million homes. Additionally, the report found that 15 major U.S. cities recorded a tenfold increase in their solar capacity between 2014 and 2022.

Nationally, Honolulu placed first for solar energy capacity per capita, while Los Angeles finished No. 1 in total solar energy capacity installed. Leaders in per capita solar capacity by region were: 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.

Regionally, Phoenix placed third in the Mountain region – behind Las Vegas and Albuquerque, New Mexico – in per capita solar energy capacity and second in the region for total solar energy capacity installed.

These numbers tell the story of progress driven by pro-solar policies, many of which are outlined in the report. Some of those include: 100% renewable electricity targets, automated solar permitting systems that make it faster and easier to go solar and programs that fairly compensate solar producers for the clean electricity they share with their neighbors. 

“Phoenix enjoys so much sunshine, and is also committed to taking advantage of that bountiful resource,” said Neumann. “Cities everywhere can follow that example and see solar power take off thanks to their actions. That’s exactly what we need in order to ensure a cleaner, healthier and more energy independent future. Local and state leadership will continue to be crucial to continuing our remarkable solar progress to date and picking up the pace even more.”