Environment California Research & Policy Center
LOS ANGELES – Today, Environment California Research & Policy Center released a new report: “Shining Cities: At the Forefront of America’s Solar Energy Revolution.” The report ranks Los Angeles #1 among major cities nationwide for the amount of installed solar power, and provides a first-of-its-kind comparative look at the growth of solar in major American cities.
“The star with top billing in Los Angeles today is the sun,” said Michelle Kinman, clean energy advocate at Environment California. “As the #1 solar leader in the country, L.A. is proving that by setting—and achieving—ambitious solar goals, cities can take critical steps towards a clean energy future.”
With the cost of solar coming down, there’s growing awareness of solar power as a mainstream energy solution with widespread benefits for our health, our economy and the environment.
The report highlights the benefits of solar energy, including:
Solar energy avoids pollution—Pollution-free energy from the sun reduces air pollution that contributes to urban smog and global warming. It also helps save the massive amount of water that’s normally consumed during the cooling of fossil-fuel-burning power plants.
Solar energy protects consumers—Since solar has no fuel costs, it can protect us from the rising cost of fossil fuels.
Solar energy helps the economy—California has over 47,000 solar jobs, with approximately one-third of all solar jobs in the country.
The naming of Los Angeles as the nation’s top solar leader elicited praise and calls to continue building on this strong clean energy foundation:
“I’m proud that L.A. is leading the nation on installed solar, but with the release of the disturbing new IPCC report on climate change and the increase of severe weather events around the world, it is clear we need to do more, faster, to address the climate crisis and move away from fossil fuels,” Councilmember Paul Koretz said. “From the top of City Hall, I want to see solar panels built across the rooftops of Los Angeles and I want us to put Angelenos to work building them.”
“Environment California’s report confirms that Los Angeles is leading the way toward a brighter future,” said Councilmember Mike Bonin. “Our success in developing clean energy fueled by the sun has come from our neighborhoods and the grassroots activism of an environmentally sensitive population that is hungry for clean energy, and which is creating a market for sustainable energy solutions in L.A.”
“As a City we have made great strides towards reducing our dependency on coal, moving away from centralized generation toward a more distributed model while creating thousands of local jobs in the process,” said Councilmember Mitchell Englander. “We are continually striving to make the process of going solar more user-friendly and cost efficient. The future for solar in Los Angeles will only get brighter.”
The report pointed to policies that encourage investment in solar PV installations, which have been adopted by local leaders in solar cities. L.A.’s solar accomplishments are the result of several of these policies, including: putting solar on public buildings; offering net metering for homeowners, schools and businesses; and establishing the largest urban feed-in tariff program in the country for large commercial property owners.
According to a recent report from the Los Angeles Business Council Institute, the city’s trailblazing 100 megawatt feed-in tariff program is on track to meet its considerable economic and sustainability goals by 2015, including creating more than 2,000 jobs, generating approximately $300 million in direct investment in the city, displacing as many as 2.7 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, and powering more than 21,000 homes.
“The City’s investment in solar power can benefit all communities, especially those that are disproportionately affected by dirty emissions. Local solar protects the environment, creates jobs, and creates community pride – it really is a win-win,” said the Los Angeles Clean Energy Coalition in a written statement. “This is a fantastic start, and it’s only the beginning. We want L.A. to keep leading the way with a 600 MW FiT and 1,200 MW of installed local solar.” The Los Angeles Clean Energy Coalition includes Communities for a Better Environment, Environment California, Global Green USA, Los Angeles Business Council, Natural Resources Defense Council, Pacoima Beautiful and the Sierra Club.
“The sky’s the limit on solar energy,” said Kinman. “But, we’ve barely scratched the surface of the potential to capture this pollution-free energy source. By committing to bold goals and expanding on the good policies we’ve adopted, we can take solar to the next level and ensure that Los Angeles remains the nation’s solar leader.”
Top 20 Solar Cities by Total Installed Solar PV Capacity, End of 2013
Cumulative Solar PV Capacity (MW)
Cumulative Solar PV Capacity Rank
Environment California Research & Policy Center is a statewide nonprofit environmental advocacy organization working to protect California’s air, water and open spaces. More information, including copies of today’s report, can be found at www.environmentcalifornia.org/center.
 This includes all solar PV capacity (rooftop and utility-scale solar installations) within the city limits of each city.