New Report Ranks Top U.S. Cities for Installed Solar – California Cities Lead the Way

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Environment California Research & Policy Center

Sacramento – 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.  Closely following Los Angeles is San Diego in the 2nd spot, San Jose – 4th,  San Francisco – 9th and Sacramento – 12th (Top 20 list below).

“Solar power is booming across the country and cities are at the forefront,” said Michelle Kinman, clean energy advocate at Environment California.  “And with several of the nation’s top shining cities, California is leading the way.” 

Environment California released the report at press conferences in San Diego with Mayor Ken Faulconer and San Jose with Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen. News of California’s solar cities was celebrated by California leaders across the state.

Los Angeles:

“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.”

San Diego:

“As a pollution-free energy source with no fuel costs, solar energy can help us to meet many of our city’s environmental and economic goals,” San Diego Mayor Ken Faulconer said. “It makes perfect sense for San Diego, one of the sunniest cities in the country, to lead the way in solar energy.”

“Solar energy is renewable and clean, which is why I’m such an advocate for its role in our national energy portfolio,” Congressman Scott Peters said. “The solar industry is creating jobs, including more than 675 in my district alone, and powering our economy toward a more sustainable future. I’m proud that San Diego and California are leading the way as an example for the rest of the country.”

“California cities are leaders in creating solar energy capacity,” said Senator Marty Block (SD-39). “Of the top 20 American cities listed for this clean and safe energy alternative, California has five cities ranked in the top 12 – Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco and Sacramento. It’s leadership that means a cleaner environment, better jobs and a stronger economy. I applaud the cities for their foresight and commitment.”

San Jose:

“Going solar isn’t just good for the planet, it’s also an excellent investment,” said San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, who has solar panels installed on his own home. “San Jose is pleased to be recognized for its solar efforts. Since adopting our Green Vision in 2007, San Jose has become a national leader in solar installations, including putting solar on city buildings to save taxpayer dollars and energy.”

“I’m so proud of San Jose for being one of the national leaders in clean, renewable energy,” said Assemblymember Paul Fong (D-San Jose). “Solar power helps Californians meet its conservation goals. I’m looking forward to continue working with our community to reduce our carbon footprint.”

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, accounting for approximately one-third of all solar jobs in the country.

The top 20 solar cities in this report have more solar power within their city limits than was installed in the entire U.S. just six years ago. 

The report pointed to policies that encourage investment in solar PV installations, which have been adopted by local leaders in solar cities:

  • City leaders can set ambitious and achievable goals and citizens and businesses can work with local governments to meet them.  Cities can lead by example by putting solar on public buildings.
  • Cities can adopt policies to advance solar power in their communities, including tax incentives, low-interest loan programs and solar-friendly zoning and building codes.  Cities can also run “Solarize” programs that use bulk purchasing and educational campaigns to help neighbors “go solar” together.
  • City leaders can work with state governments to ensure that they have strong programs to expand solar, including renewable energy standards, solar carve-outs or feed-in tariffs, net metering and community solar programs.
  • City leaders can also demand a strong partnership with the federal government to ensure that federal incentives such as tax credits are continued.  And, that federal programs, such as the Solar America’s Cities and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant programs continue to provide support and technical assistance to cities seeking to expand solar.

“The sky’s the limit on solar energy and California cities are a shining example of solar leadership,” 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.”    


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