San Diego Beats Bay Area at Solar Power Installs

San Diego beats San Francisco cities in solar instalation ranking

By Derek Highsmith
|  Friday, Jul 17, 2009  |  Updated 6:17 AM PDT
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San Diego Beats Bay Area at Solar Power Installs

San Francisco and San Jose rank among the top California cities in solar power installations.

A report released Thursday by Environment California ranks San Francisco and San Jose in the top four California cities with the most solar roof installations and the top five for solar capacity in the state.

San Diego beat the Bay Area communities ranking number one on both lists. San Francisco has 1,493 solar roofs, making it the city with the second most installations in the state.  San Jose took second place in solar capacity with 15,818 kilowatts AC installed. Santa Rosa, Oakland and Richmond also made the top 10 of both lists.

“It’s not surprising to see that so many of our cities are strong leaders,” Jose Tengco, who is with Akeena Solar, one of the large solar installers in the Bay Area, said.

A $3.3 billion program state program that purchases solar energy from customers is expected to come close to reaching its limit later this year, threatening to halt growth of solar installations. Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) introduced solar-industry backed AB 560, which would quadruple current limits. The bill has been passed through a committee with overwhelming support.

Southern California's energy companies don't support the bill as it stands.

"We very much support our customers who are installing solar on their rooftops" said a spokesperson for San Diego Gas & Electric, which wants a 3 percent cap on the amount of solar power that makes up a utility's total electricity load. "We don't want to shift the cost to our customers who don't participate in the program." 

AB 560 proposes increasing the current cap of 2.5 percent to 5 percent. The bill initially proposed 10 percent but a senate committee lowered the number to gain support.

The report urges California local governments to invest in public solar projects and incentives for residents and businesses. In the Bay Area, the programs that are in place appear to be working. Sebastopol, a North Bay community, has solar panels on 15.5 percent of its households, making it number two in the state. Los Altos Hills and Sonoma also made the top 10 cities on that list.

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