Los Angeles Takes Top Spot for Solar Among US Cities

Los Angeles is celebrating after taking back its position as the U.S. city with the most installed solar PV capacity.

In a report released yesterday, Environment America said that first-place Los Angeles had 349.3 MW-DC of solar PV installed by the end of 2017, followed by San Diego with 287.2 MW-DC, and Honolulu with 287.2 MW-DC. Los Angeles held the No. 1 spot from 2013-2015 and was overtaken by San Diego in 2016.

“We’re proud to lead American cities in the movement to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. “Every investment we make in solar is an investment in the health and well-being of Angelenos today and for years to come.”

Related: Solar Leads Record Renewables Investment

Garcetti yesterday unveiled a new 2.2-MW solar installation on the roof of the Los Angeles Convention Center that he said is the largest solar project on a publicly-owned convention center on the West Coast.

“[This] ranking is a testament to the Mayor’s leadership and to the strong interest among the city’s residents and businesses to do their part to achieve a clean power future for Los Angeles,” Los Angeles Department of Water and Power General Manager David Wright said. “The impressive growth of local solar is also a reflection of the improvements we’ve made to streamline all aspects of the solar programs, making it much easier for customers to go solar and generally improving our responsiveness to customers overall.”

According to the mayor’s office, the growth in solar capacity in the city is supported by two incentive programs that have helped provide more than 32,000 residential and commercial customers with $314 million in incentives.

Local Policy

The report made several policy recommendations for local governments to support solar deployment. Among the recommendations is a call for the adoption of policies that either promote or require solar-ready or zero net energy homes.

“Solar energy is most efficient and cost-effective when it is designed into new construction from the start,” the report said.

In addition, the report called for easy, quick and affordable permitting, zoning and inspection processes.

“The soft costs of switching to solar energy — such as costs related to zoning and permitting — now make up about two-thirds of the toal price of residential solar energy systems,” the report said. “Reducing fees, making permitting rules clear and readily available, speeding up the permitting process, and making inspections convenient for property owners can significantly lower the barriers for residents to switch to solar energy.”

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Jennifer Delony, analyst for TransmissionHub, started her career as a B2B news editor in the local and long-distance telecommunications industries in the '90s. Jennifer began covering renewable energy issues at the local level in 2005 and covered U.S. and Canadian utility-scale wind energy as editor of North American Windpower magazine from 2006-2009. She also provides analysis for the oil and natural gas sectors as editor of Oilman Magazine.

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