You might expect the #1 solar area in America to be a city like San Franciso or San Diego. According to One Block Off the Grid*, it isn’t one of the largest metro areas, though—it’s Fresno, CA, with a strong lead at 182 watts per capita. That rate is almost a full 100 watts per capita greater than the city in the number two position, Phoenix.
The rest of the top 10 is:
3. Las Vegas
5. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose
6. San Diego
8. New York City
9. Los Angeles
Fresno topped the list because it has a lot of open space for solar projects and a relatively small population. One initially might have assumed it was because their citizens are greener than most, but this isn’t the case. It is exactly this closeness to open space, but this time desert lands, that make Phoenix and Las Vegas top solar installation sites as well. Considering that they both have abundant sunshine and open desert space around them to accommodate solar power plants, it just might turn out that they eventually eclipse Fresno.
It isn’t surprising that the San Francisco Bay Area is in the top 5, which surely comes in part from their technology and startup presence. This area is also progressive and has a fairly large population of green enthusiasts. The city of San Francisco also benefited when Gavin Newsom was mayor, because he helped build enthusiasm and strong policies for clean energy. The Bay Area might also move up the list eventually.
LA has such a large human population that it might be hard for the entertainment capital of the country to catch up. San Antonio is also fairly large, so if a smaller Texas city that is progressive catches up it, few will be taken off guard.
Texas might do well to improve its policies regarding clean energy, because it has been found that the whole state could easily be powered by solar*. Of course, its history is saturated with oil production and sales, so a culture shift will be required to move entirely toward renewables.
*Full disclosure: we have a financial partnership with 1BOG and Cost of Solar.