|Richmond Designated 2009 Solar Champion
July 15, 2009
Yesterday, Environment California presented Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and the City of Richmond with a “2009 Solar Champion” award for ranking among the top 15 cities in the state for installed solar capacity. According to Environment California, Richmond has over144 solar roofs totaling 5,076 kilowatts of solar power capacity.
Richmond’s award comes at the release of Environment California Research and policy Center’s latest report, “California Solar Cities: Leading the Way to a Clean Energy Future,” which analyzes the amount of solar power installed in California on a city by city basis.
Mayor McLaughlin stated, “From our solar installation job training program, our solar thermal rebate program and our solar permit fee waiver to our many solar businesses, Richmond is leading the way to a solar future. We are profoundly committed to not only creating a sustainable environment, but also to creating those essential pathways out of poverty through healthy, clean energy jobs. I am honored that Richmond is being recognized as a Solar Champ, and we will continue to show that Richmond has what it takes to become the solar capital of our region.”
Environment California is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization. Its professional staff combines independent research, practical ideas and tough-minded advocacy to overcome the opposition of powerful special interests and win real results for California's environment. Environment California draws on 30 years of success in tackling our state's top environmental problems.
California’s Solar Roofs
Solar power is a no-brainer energy resource for California. Cleaner than fossil fuels, safer than a nuclear power, and one of the most reliable sources of electricity, solar power is a critical part of California’s clean energy future.
At the beginning of 2009, California was home to approximately 51,000 solar roofs, totaling more than 500 megawatts of solar power capacity. California has seen tremendous growth in the amount of solar power installed since 1999 when just 500 rooftops hosted a solar system, as illustrated in the chart below.
The vast majority of California’s solar electric systems are on single family homes, typically as a retrofit project to an existing home. However, the number of California businesses, farms, schools, and government buildings hosting solar photovoltaic systems is on the rise, as is the number of new housing developments incorporating solar power into the home during construction.
California’s Top Ten Solar Cities
This report analyzes this which cities host the largest amount of solar power, measured in terms of numbers of solar installations (e.g. roofs) and amount of solar power (e.g. installed capacity) as well as those cities that host the highest concentration of solar power based on population.
California’s solar power market is broad, as supported by the findings of this report. A healthy and growing solar power market is taking hold in the state’s large coastal cities, tiny mountain hamlets, and suburban communities of the Central Valley. The cities with the greatest amount of solar power today include San Diego with 2,267 solar roofs totaling 19,452 kilowatts, San Francisco with 1,493 solar roofs totaling 12,763 kilowatts, and Los Angeles with 1,432 solar roofs totaling 13,442 kilowatts, and, surprisingly not far behind, are the cities of Fresno, Bakersfield and Clovis with more than 700 solar roofs each.
When population is taken into account, the top ten list shifts to smaller cities such as Trinidad along the north coast, to remote and rustic Nevada City, and to one of the state’s fastest growing cities, Lincoln. The data for Nevada City, for example, shows that nearly one in every five households hosts a solar system. In the City of Industry, for every resident more than one kilowatt of solar power is installed. This impressive statistic is due to several large solar installations in a city that has a very small number of residents.
There are many benefits to the expansion of solar power in California. High among the list is job growth. Applying Electric Power Research Institute 2001 estimates for the number of jobs created per megawatt of solar power installed to California’s projected solar roof growth through 2017 has California creating 20,000 person years of employment. The chart below illustrates the sustained growth in solar industry jobs as a result of the state’s million solar roofs program.
Promoting Solar at Municipal Level
Government incentives in the form of rebates and federal tax credits are powerful forces driving consumers to invest in solar power. As California aims to make history by building a million solar roofs, totaling 3,000 megawatts of solar power, by 2017, it is critical that California’s cities – small and large – as well as counties embrace solar power and play a leading role in realizing a mainstream, cost-effective solar power market.
To build a million solar roofs in ten years, all levels of government must embrace this promising clean energy technology and play an active role in bringing about a mainstream, self-sufficient solar power market. California’s cities, both those with and without a municipal utility, can make a significant contribution to the state’s million solar roofs goal and in so doing help build thriving, sustainable communities.
California’s county and municipal leaders should:
In addition, there are many things that state and federal decision makers can do to promote more solar power in California, including:
Cities and counties throughout California are playing a leading role in promoting and installing solar power. This report shows that California’s top “solar cities” are diverse in geography and demographics and that California has enormous potential to meet its million solar roofs goal should government, utilities and the public work together to achieve this important vision. Ultimately, solar power is an energy resource that is here to stay, and grow. California’s local governments should embrace this technology and allow it to grow sooner rather than later.