Fresno has been lauded as the U.S. city with the second-highest solar power generating capacity per person, second only to Honolulu, Hawaii.
The recognition of the city by Environment California Research & Policy Center in its April 2018 "Shining Cities 2018" report was celebrated Wednesday by Fresno City Council President Esmeralda Soria in a news conference at Central High School-East. The report highlighted major cities across the country that have significant development of photovoltaic solar panels to generate electricity for homes and businesses and are connected to the statewide power grid.
While Fresno – California's fifth most populous city (527,483 people) and 34th nationwide – was not among the 68 cities studied in detail by Los Angeles-based Environment California, the city did receive special mention for being among "smaller cities and towns (that) are going big on solar energy."
Fresno's total solar power generating capacity was reported at about 179 megawatts. That's fourth among California's big cities behind Los Angeles, San Diego and San Jose, and ahead of Sacramento, San Francisco and Riverside. But when that total capacity is divided by the city's population, Fresno generates more watts of solar power for every man, woman and child in the community than not only any California city in the "Shining Cities" report, but more than any of the other major cities in the continental United States included in the report.
Fresno's solar capacity was estimated at 343 watts per person. Only Honolulu, Hawaii, at more than 606 watts, ranked higher in the U.S. in the per capita estimates.
"This is a time to recognize the accomplishments of our city's cumulative efforts in conversion to renewable power options," Soria said in a prepared statement.
Fresno "has set and achieved many goals to help increase the use of solar energy, including streamlining and standardizing its permitting process," according to the report.
Photovoltaic solar panels are the most recognizable form of capturing the sun's power-generating potential. Sunlight that falls on the cells of a panel is converted directly into electricity. A growing number of homes and businesses are installing solar panels on their rooftops, as shade structures over parking lots, or on vacant land to provide power for commercial or industrial firms.
"Competing with the nation's biggest cities, Fresno ranks as a strong solar power leader," said Michelle Kinman, Environment California's director of clean energy and transportation. "By tapping into more of our vast solar potential, we can benefit from healthier air and fight climate change."
The observance comes about a month after the California Energy Commission unanimously approved a requirement for all new homes built in the state to have solar panels on their roofs starting in 2020. The proposal was approved with the support of a coalition of the state's major power providers as well as the California Building Industry Association.