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Report: Phoenix ranks high among solar cities

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Report: Phoenix ranks high among solar cities

  • Solar panels installed outside the Burton Barr Library in Phoenix also created 84 covered parking spots.
    Brittany Elena Morris/Cronkite News ServiceSolar panels installed outside the Burton Barr Library in Phoenix also created 84 covered parking spots.

With solar panels going up on homes, businesses and public buildings, Phoenix ranks No. 6 among a group of large U.S. cities in an environmental group’s accounting of per-capita photovoltaic capacity.

The Environment America Research and Policy Center, which evaluated 57 cities in 38 states for 2013, found that Phoenix had 96 megawatts of overall capacity. That ranked third, behind Los Angeles and San Diego.

Measuring that capacity per-capita, Honolulu ranked first, followed by San Jose, Calif., Wilmington, Del., San Diego, Indianapolis and Phoenix.

Whatever the measure, Councilwoman Kate Gallego said she wants Phoenix to be No. 1.

“I am very glad to see our residents are embracing solar,” Gallego said. “But of course I want our city to be the best.”

To make it to the top, Gallego wants to find new ways to implement solar panel technology.

“You shouldn’t need a roof,” she said. “Let’s find ways to put the technology into building materials.”

Bret Fanshaw, state advocate for Environment Arizona, credits incentives and financing programs once offered by the city and still offered by solar panel companies for the increase of rooftop solar panels.

“Phoenix is at the forefront of implementing solar energy, and it totally makes sense,” Fanshaw said.

The city of Phoenix has installed solar panels at 28 public sites since 2007, creating 15.3 megawatts of capacity. Noteworthy among them are the Burton Barr Library parking lot panels, which also created 84 covered parking spots.

“We are going to continue working for a future with more renewable energy,” Phoenix energy manager Dimitrios Laloudakis said.

William Craven, the senior public affairs manager at SolarCity, which installs solar panels on homes across the U.S., said Phoenix is the company’s second most popular market.

“Solar panels have grown immensely in Phoenix,” he said. “We credit Arizona’s sunny skies.”

The report also revealed more customers were converted during the past few years because solar panels have become more affordable.

Fanshaw said Phoenix is geared up for a future could include getting 100 percent of its energy from renewable energy.

“There is no reason why we shouldn’t take advantage of a natural and free energy source: the sun,” he said.

Gallego agreed.

“Not only do we have the sun, but we have the industry,” she said. “With leading solar companies and advocates for solar energy in our city, we have done a good job.”

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