San Diego Ranks No. 1 as State Usage Grows

San Francisco Chronicle
David R. Baker

California's top solar city does not lie within the eco-conscious Bay Area.

Instead, San Diego has more solar installations - generating more electricity - than any other city in the Golden State, according to a report issued Tuesday. 

The report, California's Solar Cities 2012, traces the spread of solar power across the state, showing which communities have installed the most panels. With 4,507 installations generating 37 megawatts of electricity, San Diego leads the pack, producing more solar power than all of Mexico.

Sprawling and sunny Los Angeles comes in a close second, generating 36 megawatts from photovoltaic solar installations. San Jose ranks third, at 31 megawatts. A megawatt is a snapshot figure, equal to the amount of electricity used by 750 typical homes at any given moment.

The Bay Area, home to many solar companies, does lead in one key aspect - it contains four of the top 10 cities on the list, including San Francisco, Santa Rosa and Oakland.

The report, compiled by the nonprofit Environment California Research & Policy Center, contains a few surprises.