New Report: San Jose Ranks 4th Among Major U.S. Cities for Installed Solar

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Environment California Research & Policy Center

San Jose – Today, Environment California Research & Policy Center was joined at the Tech Museum of Innovation by San Jose Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen, the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA) and local renewable energy advocates to release a new report: “Shining Cities:  At the Forefront of America’s Solar Energy Revolution.”  The report ranks San Jose fourth in the nation for the amount of solar installed and second for per capita solar installations, and provides a first-of-its-kind comparative look at the growth of solar in major American cities (Top 20 list below).

“Solar power is booming across the country and cities are at the forefront,” said Mac Farrell, global warming organizer at Environment California.  “As one of the top ranking cities, San Jose is leading the way.” 

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.  

“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 highlighted 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. 

“Of course Silicon Valley has embraced solar power. High-tech embraces high-tech. California’s goal is to make rooftop solar power as commonplace as the PC, and forward-thinking cities like San Jose, along with strong public policies, are making that vision a reality,” says Kelsea Jones, Deputy Director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA)

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.

“We are pleased that a significant number of San Jose home and business owners have adopted solar to generate clean energy, reduce their carbon footprint and lower their electricity bills,” said SunPower President and CEO Tom Werner.  “As a San Jose-based solar company, and founded almost 30 years ago, we continue to support the City’s environmental goals and congratulate its leaders on this achievement.”

In 2008, SunPower installed a 185-kilowatt solar system atop the roof of the San Jose Tech Museum, the first commercial solar system on a downtown San Jose building.

“The partnership between The Tech, the city of San Jose, and SunPower is a great example of how communities can pave the way for clean, renewable energy,” said The Tech President Tim Ritchie. “The Tech is proud to be part of San Jose’s recognition and exhibit the benefits of solar power.”

“Clean Solar is the second largest residential installer in San Jose, where it was born, nurtured, and is now thriving,” added Randy Zechman, CEO of Clean Solar. “San Jose’s leadership in green building and infrastructure has been a key part of our success and happiness in this market. We are not surprised to see San Jose thriving as one of America’s top solar cities.” 

“The sky’s the limit on solar energy.  San Jose is a shining example of solar leadership,” said Farrell.  “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