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San Diego Second In U.S. For Solar Installations

Solar energy canopies in the parking lot of the San Diego Zoo charge cars and feed an innovative new power station.
Monaliza Noor
Solar energy canopies in the parking lot of the San Diego Zoo charge cars and feed an innovative new power station.

Local elected officials gathered in North Park Friday morning to discuss a recent study which ranked San Diego second in the nation and fourth per capita in solar installations.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Councilman Todd Gloria and representatives from the nonprofit Environment California Research & Policy Center, which conducted the study, met at an affordable housing complex powered by solar energy. The Bridgeport complex's solar system contributed to the 149 megawatts of solar capacity in operation in San Diego at the end of last year — enough to power around 32,000 homes.

"San Diego is one of the country's brightest stars when it comes to solar power," Dan Jacobson of Environment California said. "As California leaders — Governor Brown, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins — aim to have 50 percent of the state's electricity come from renewable sources by 2030, San Diego is turning its commitment to solar power into a clean energy future."

San Diego came in second to Los Angeles' 170 megawatts, according to the report. The category included all kinds of solar installations, whether rooftop or utility scale, the environmental organization said.

However, San Diegans installed 42 megawatts of solar power during 2014 compared with the 38 megawatts installed in Los Angeles over the same time period.

"This is even more proof that San Diego is an innovation hub and a strong leader in renewable energy sources," Rep. Susan Davis, D-San Diego, said. "Continued federal support for solar energy and other renewable sources must be a priority. San Diego should be proud of this ranking. Now let's go for that top spot!"

Environment California said 110 watts of solar was produced per person in San Diego, which ranked behind Honolulu, Indianapolis and San Jose.

Faulconer said the rankings showed the city's years long effort to push solar-energy initiatives.

"San Diego is leading the way in solar energy, and that's going to help us meet many of our city's environmental goals and put San Diegans back to work," Faulconer said. "Solar energy is a key element to the city's proposed Climate Action Plan, which calls for 100 percent renewable energy use in the city by 2035."

RELATED: A Closer Look At San Diego's Ambitious Climate Plan

Environment California credited a commitment to solar energy among leaders statewide, and streamlined and predictable permitting fees.

The study also found that the United States had 20,500 megawatts of solar electric capacity at the end of last year, enough to power 4 million homes.

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