America's Finest City now ranks as top in the nation for solar energy capacity nationwide, according to a new report.
The Environment California Research and Policy Center's "Shining Cities" report, released Tuesday, found San Diego had grown its solar capacity potential by 60 percent.
In the past year, the City leaped forward in the rankings. San Diego has ranked second nationally for the past three years, but this year, the City finally leaped ahead, passing Los Angeles and claiming the top spot.
A year ago, San Diego has 189 megawatts of installed solar capacity, enough to power 47,000 homes.
Now, the City has 303 megawatts of capacity, researchers have found. That means San Diego's solar capacity could power the equivalent of approximately 76,000 homes.
“San Diego is setting the standard for other cities across the country when it comes to protecting our environment and creating a cleaner future,” San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. “This new ranking is a testament to the many San Diego residents and businesses harnessing our natural resources as we march toward our goal of using 100 percent renewable energy throughout the city.”
Faulconer announced the new ranking at Kearny High School in San Diego's Clairemont neighborhood. The school has more than 1,000 solar panels, which helps it generate 240 kilowatts of power, he said. The solar panels help the district save $43,000 annually.
“San Diego has so much more untapped solar potential and we encourage city leaders to continue to embrace a big vision for solar on rooftops throughout the city,” said Michelle Kinman, Clean Energy Advocate for the Environment California Research & Policy Center. “By making the most of San Diego’s solar potential, we can reduce pollution and improve public health for all San Diegans and continue to set a strong example for cities all across the country.”
The move coincides with the City of San Diego's Climate Action Plan, which calls for using 100 percent renewable energy across the city and slashing greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2035.
In recent years, San Diego's Development Services Department has aimed to help those looking to get permits for solar projects, Faulconer said.
Some of those moves include reducing turnaround time for permitting single family residential roof mountain solar projects, expanded hours for solar appointments and drop-off services, adding staff to the permitting program and more.