Residential Solar: California’s Top 10 Cities

A new quarterly report from PV Solar Report, which watches the California residential solar market, identifies the top 10 solar cities in the state. The list is based on reservations for the new California Solar Initiative (CSI) solar rebates by customers of Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) in the first eight months of 2011.

According to this data, the top 10 California solar cities are: (1) San Jose; (2) San Diego; (3) Bakersfield; (4) San Francisco; (5) Fresno; (6) Corona; (7) Simi Valley; (8) Santa Rosa; (9) Murrieta; and (10) Lancaster.

solar permitting, SunRun study

image via SunRun

With the exception of San Diego, the top five cities are in Northern California or the Central Valley, far from the utility-scale solar power hotbeds of the southern California desert. According to Lynn Jurich, president and co-founder of SunRun, a provider of solar leases and solar power services, Fresno and Bakersfield residents have some of the highest electric bills in the state, “so it’s not surprising that more homeowners in those areas are looking for ways to save money on electricity by switching to solar,” she said.

Interestingly, the report also indicates that third-party-ownership models, including solar leases or solar power services, are becoming the preferred option in California. June 2011 was the first month ever in which more Californians opted for third-party-owned solar offered by companies such as SunRun, SolarCity and even Lowe’s, over cash purchases. In seven of the top 10 California solar cities, the majority of homeowners chose a lease or similar third-party ownership option over purchasing their solar equipment upfront.

Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).


  • Reply October 9, 2011

    Greg Duncan

    Yeah Simi! My solar system just one thatu00a0helped get us in the top 10… :)u00a0


  • Reply October 10, 2011

    James Fraser

    Great to see California’s paving the way in the solar revolution :)u00a0 Wish it was more like this here in Europe! The key to the future of energy is the decentralization of power generation.u00a0 Too much money is wasted in subsidized schemes.u00a0 If people could generate more power from home, things would be a lot better.u00a0 There are plenty of guides out there on how to achieve this.u00a0 Here for example is a good impartial review site on some of these guides:u00a0

  • Reply February 3, 2012

    Rana Dutta

    I am looking for a solar property (10 to 20 acres) under SCE or PG&E. Any help much appreciated.

  • Reply December 7, 2012

    Sean Carter

    it great to see that solar energy in California is thriving. Alternate energy is a very important thing for our future and its good to see someone taking charge. I have had a solar system for awhile now and it has been nothing but fantastic

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