America’s finest city is further securing its title. A report by Environment California has ranked San Diego second in solar power installation. As one of the nation’s “Solar Stars,” San Diego is setting the standard for renewable energy alternatives.
Solar power is the groundwork for green alternatives and environmental improvement. It relies on harnessing the power of the sun to produce electricity. Considering the sun is always there when we wake up, solar power has firmly established itself as a renewable and sustainable energy source. It produces 96% less air pollution than fossil fuel burning power plants.
City officials have consistently advocated for solar energy production and these efforts are clearly paying off. These solar achievements are the framework of San Diego’s Climate Action Plan, which aims to have completely renewable energy in a couple decades.
How San Diego Ranks
San Diego is miles head of most major cities in solar installation. The Environment California study tracks these progressions by the Cumulative Installed Solar PV Capacity, which is a measuring of cities with 50 or more watts of installed solar PV capacity per person. The categories for installation accounted for rooftop or utility installations. By the end of 2014, the U.S. recorded 20,500 megawatts of solar capacity that powered over four million homes. The 65 cities of the report had 1.3 gigawatts installed, which was more than the whole U.S. net solar production in 2009.
San Diego ranks second only to Los Angeles on the installation list, installing 149 megawatts of solar capacity to the 170 megawatts of Los Angeles. These numbers, however, do not measure the true consistency and efficiency of production.
San Diego vs. Los Angeles
Los Angeles as a whole is 503 square miles compared to San Diego’s 372.4 square miles and has a population of 3.844 million compared to San Diego’s 1.356 million. Los Angeles is a larger place with more people, which accounts for the higher overall installation numbers. Despite a smaller population, San Diego’s recent solar installation numbers are surpassing the production of Los Angeles.
In 2014, San Diego actually installed 42 megawatts to Los Angeles’ 38.
San Diego has only 18 cities and much of the population is served by one electric utility, San Diego Gas & Electric. This centralized utility has organized successful solar negotiations by having similar permits citywide at much lower costs. The Forbes article reveals that San Diego’s small suburb of Chula Vista, with an average income of $60,000, has had twice as much solar capacity installed than Los Angeles’ Newport Beach, with an average income of $107,000. San Diego proves to be a more solar friendly society that is serious about environmental sustainability.
San Diego’s Climate Action Plan
Mayor Faulconer released the Climate Action Plan on September 30, 2014. The plan is designed to increase and maintain the clean production of energy for San Diegans. The main goal of the city plan sets a target of 100% renewable energy by 2035. It also contributes to the state goals of greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The plan is set to create thousands of jobs in the solar installation industry. Electric car charging stations are also growing in popularity and offering multiple jobs.
Collaborative efforts have transformed San Diego into a solar powerhouse. The passion and awareness of city officials and electricity utilities will surpass the numbers of Los Angeles in a few years.