Photos: Top ten solar cities in the U.S. -- and why Denver's finish isn't good enough
"Shining Cities," a new report from Environment Colorado, compiles an incredible amount of data about solar power, including a ranking of the top ten solar cities in the United States.
Yes, Denver made the list -- barely. But while this accomplishment might seem worthy of praise, Environment Colorado energy associate Margaret McCall believes the community should be doing even better.
"The top ten is never something to turn up your nose at," McCall acknowledges. "But Colorado has the fifth greatest solar potential of any state in the country. So Denver could be doing more than we are."
Environment Colorado has come up with some suggestions about how to improve -- ten of them that we've interspersed below along with the photo-illustrated roster. But McCall focuses particularly on net metering programs, in which "owners of rooftop solar systems receive a credit back on their monthly electric bill for any excess solar that gets sent back to the electricity grid."
Such innovative approaches "directly impact people's abilities to make solar economically and financially feasible," McCall stresses. "There are a lot of different people who've already gone solar and have a stake in it -- and a lot of people who might want to give it a try."
Here's the list, as well as the countdown of ten ways your city can go solar and the "Shining Cities" report.
Number 10: Denver, Colorado
Cumulative Solar PV Capacity (MW): 25
Tenth way your city can go solar: Push for strong state and federal leadership
Pro-solar state and federal policies are critical for the development of solar energy,
and cities should use their influence to advocate for stronger state and federal financial incentives for solar energy, solar "carve-outs" in renewable electricity standards, strong net metering and interconnection standards, and comprehensive solar rights policies.
Number 9: San Francisco, California
Cumulative Solar PV Capacity (MW): 26
Ninth way your city can go solar: Guarantee "solar rights"
Local governments should adopt "solar rights policies," which protect access to
solar power by overriding local ordinances or homeowners' association policies that
bar residents from installing solar power equipment on their properties. Cities such
as Sacramento have passed laws to allow solar installations to exceed height restrictions
stated in the city zoning code. Some cities have added building code provisions that require homes to be "solar ready," or able to accept solar panels without additional wiring or major building changes, thereby further facilitating homeowners' access to solar power.
Continue to keep counting down the top ten solar cities in the U.S.