Chart: Which 12 US cities outshine the rest in solar energy?

A new report ranks cities by total amount of solar power capacity and solar per capita — and most of the top contenders are not in California!
By Maria Virginia Olano

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Canary Media’s chart of the week translates crucial data about the clean energy transition into a visual format. Canary thanks Natural Power for its support of this feature.

There is now more solar power capacity in nine U.S. cities than there was in the entire country a decade ago, according to Environment America’s new Shining Cities report. It ranks U.S. cities in terms of both overall installed solar and per capita capacity.

The list is more geographically diverse than you might expect; though three of the cities are in California, the others are spread across the country. With 650 megawatts, Los Angeles has the most installed solar capacity, followed by San Diego and Las Vegas.

But the city with by far the most solar per person is Honolulu, Hawaii. As Canary’s Julian Spector has reported, Hawaii’s rooftop solar industry boomed early as an economic alternative to expensive fossil-fueled electricity. Now households in Honolulu can earn money for sharing their solar production with the grid.

Meanwhile, the U.S. solar industry is facing hurdles that could seriously dampen future growth. In California, regulators are in the process of revamping the state’s net-metering policy for rooftop solar. Changes are expected to make new solar installations less financially attractive for homeowners — the big question is how much less. Other states might also scale back their net-metering systems that now offer strong incentives for installing rooftop solar (although to the surprise of many, Florida is not yet one of them).

Even more worrying is a trade case that could bring the fast-growing, multibillion-dollar solar sector to a screeching halt,” as Canary’s Eric Wesoff recently reported. California-based panel manufacturer Auxin Solar has asked the U.S. Commerce Department to levy tariffs on panels from four Southeast Asian countries that now supply about 80% of panels used in the U.S., and the Commerce Department has launched an investigation. Even the mere threat of new tariffs is causing the industry to seize up, and if tariffs are imposed, solar deployment in the U.S. this year could drop by half compared to last year, the Solar Energy Industries Association warns.

Thinking about getting solar while the gettin’ is still good? Check out our guide for first-time rooftop solar buyers.


Natural Power is a global consultancy that supports its clients to deliver a wide range of renewable energy projects. Its independent engineering experience covers all phases of the project lifecycle, from feasibility through construction to operations, and all stages of the transaction. Learn more.

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Maria Virginia Olano is editorial producer at Canary Media.