Shining Cities

The Top U.S. Cities for Solar Energy
Released by: Environment Maine Research & Policy Center

Solar power is expanding rapidly. The United States now has over 60 gigawatts (GW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed — enough to power nearly one in every 11 homes in America. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have invested in solar energy and millions more are ready to join them.

America’s major cities have played a key role in the clean energy revolution and stand to reap tremendous benefits from solar energy. As population centers, they are major sources of electricity demand and, with millions of rooftops suitable for solar panels, they have the potential to be major sources of clean energy production as well.

Our sixth annual survey of solar energy in America’s biggest cities finds that the amount of solar power installed in just 20 U.S. cities exceeds the amount installed in the entire United States at the end of 2010. Of the 57 cities surveyed in all six editions of this report, 79 percent more than doubled their total installed solar PV capacity between 2013 and 2018.

To continue America’s progress toward renewable energy, cities, states and the federal government should adopt strong policies to make it easy for homeowners, businesses and utilities to “go solar.”

The cities with the most solar PV installed per resident are the “Solar Stars” — cities with 50 or more watts of solar PV capacity installed per capita. In 2013, only eight of the cities surveyed for this report had enough solar PV per capita to be ranked as “Solar Stars,” but now 23 cities have earned the title.

Highlights
Honolulu leads the United States for solar power per person among cities surveyed, followed by San Diego, San Jose and Burlington, Vermont. All of the “Solar Stars” have experienced dramatic growth in solar energy and are setting the pace nationally for solar energy development.

One-third of the 57 cities surveyed in all six editions of this report more than quadrupled their installed solar PV capacity from 2013 to 2018.

Los Angeles leads the nation in total installed solar PV capacity among the 69 cities surveyed in this report; as it did from 2013 to 2015 and in 2017, after briefly being topped by San Diego in 2016. Since 2016, Los Angeles has added over 150 MW of solar capacity.

Leading solar cities can be found in every region of the country. Leaders in per capita solar capacity by census region include 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.