San Diego sunshine offers much more than great beach days. Environment California has recently named San Diego second in the nation for solar power installation. The importance of renewable resources has been heavily documented for the past decade, and San Diego is taking leaps forward in green living.
Solar distribution varies around the city. A study of hot spots shows a pattern of certain geographical and income-based attributes. Depending on your home’s location and design, solar installation is typically in the range of $10,000-$40,000. City officials understand the importance of renewable resources for the community as a whole, and are finding ways to make these energy alternatives more affordable.
Solar Regional Hotspots
Most of the solar hot spots in San Diego are east of Interstate 5. These are the cities of East County and inland North County, such as Ramona, Lakeside, and Poway. Data released by SDG&E shows that areas further away from the coast have higher energy bills. Solar energy becomes a very appealing alternative that shows quick financial savings.
San Diego’s East County and inland North County feature many large homes on multiple acres. These communities are less populated with more opportunity to own larger properties. East County holds a population around 480, 000 in comparison to the coastal living population of 3 million.
A demand for coastal living has generated accommodating communities of smaller properties that tend to have much lower energy costs. A small one-bedroom apartment near the beach is not generating cringe worthy energy bills. Inland homeowners of large properties naturally have higher energy costs. Bigger homes suggest bigger families and more spacious living areas. More electricity is wired through multiple rooms and accessed by multiple people. The bill adds up, quickly.
These inland areas also experience the sunlight conditions that are essential for solar alternatives. The climate is essentially a desert, making the power of the sun more accessible to harness and utilize. Coastal sunshine is often obstructed by a marine layer that limits the possibility of consistent solar energy.
The top solar installations are by high-income households with expensive energy bills. These large property owners have great incentive for solar alternatives because they can afford the initial costs of panels and the immediate energy savings offer a guaranteed return on their investment.
Change is On the Way
San Diego’s solar achievement highlights a growing concern for assuring public health and decreasing energy bills. We only have to drive a couple hours north to see a musky cloud of smog hovering above Los Angeles. A shared desire to keep San Diego clean has led to an influx of solar companies willing to help and negotiate.
Solar prices are lowering due to more diverse financing models and increases in SDG&E energy rates. New solar leases are also becoming more popular: you make monthly payments on installed solar panels and soon reduce your electricity bill by much more than the cost of the lease. This deal only improves as electricity prices go up and your costs stay the same. Banks and credit unions are now offering unsecured loans for solar installation. If you monitor your interest rates and consistently pay the loan down, you will eventually see major savings.
For households struggling to pay for solar installation, there are groups such as the Environmental Health Coalition and the nonprofit Grid Alternatives that are finding ways to assist in solar panel installation. They refer to the income divide as the green divide, and strive to show that more renewable resources in all areas will only contribute to citywide health.
All people are interested in lower energy costs. Unfortunately, the initial prices of solar installation do not fit in the budget of many San Diego families. Luckily, solar companies and city officials have deemed renewable energy a main concern of public health service. Everyone is entitled to a safer living environment.