D.C. ranks among nation’s solar leaders

Media Contacts
Emma Searson

Nation’s capital helps drive dramatic nationwide increase in solar capacity

Environment America

WASHINGTON – Washington, D.C. ranked fifteenth nationwide and first in the South Atlantic for solar energy capacity per capita, landing it among the nation’s leaders for installing clean energy from the sun. The results come from the sixth edition of Shining Cities 2019: The Top U.S. Cities for Solar Energy, a new report released today by Environment America Research & Policy Center. It is the most comprehensive survey available of installed solar capacity in major U.S. cities.

“The nation’s capital can also be known as one of America’s ‘Solar Stars’,” said Emma Searson, Go Solar Campaign advocate with Environment America Research & Policy Center. “Washington, D.C.’s use of solar energy sets an example for the rest of the country.”

D.C. ranked ahead of Jacksonville, Florida, and just behind Los Angeles for megawatts of solar energy capacity per capita as of year-end 2018. The city has used solar energy as part of its efforts to become a healthier, greener, and more liveable city as its population continues to grow. Just last year, the city completed a 11.8-Megawatt solar system with WGL Energy that now powers a variety of schools, hospital, recreation centers and other city facilities.

“By investing in our solar infrastructure, we are investing in our residents, our community, and our collective future,” said Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. “I am proud to lead an Administration that is focused on removing barriers to rooftop and community solar projects. In doing so, we are creating jobs, building a robust clean economy, and making progress toward our goal of clean electricity by the year 2032.”

In addition to the annual rankings, the report examined national solar power in major cities over the past six years. The analysis found that from 2013 to 2018, solar energy capacity more than doubled in 45 of 57 of America’s largest cities. Solar energy capacity more than quadrupled in D.C. during this time, according to the report.

Yet, the report also found that all of the cities in the study could install far more solar energy capacity than they currently have. According the report, 33 cities could install at least 50 times as much solar PV as they currently have installed in total on their small building rooftops alone.

“Each year we harness more and more of the enormous solar energy potential across the country,” said Searson. “We still have a long way to go, but leaders like Washington, D.C., are taking the steps necessary to power more homes, schools and businesses with clean energy from the sun.”

In addition to the report, Environment America Research & Policy Center also released a new guide, “Ten Ways Your Community Can Go Solar”, a resource for local officials and community members who want to take action and bring more solar to their cities and towns.

This year’s Shining Cities survey ranks 69 of the nation’s major cities by solar energy capacity. Honolulu ranks first overall for solar energy capacity per capita, while Los Angeles places No. 1  in total solar energy capacity installed. Regional leaders for solar capacity per capita were Burlington, Vt. in the Northeast; Washington, D.C. in the South Atlantic; San Antonio in the South Central region; Indianapolis in the North Central region; Las Vegas in the Mountain region and Honolulu in the Pacific region.


Environment America Research & Policy Center is dedicated to protecting air, water and open space by investigating problems, crafting solutions and educating the public.