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Honolulu tops national list for solar energy generation

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

For a third consecutive year, Honolulu tops a national survey for solar energy production per person. That’s according to the eighth annual Shining Cities report, released Tuesday from the advocacy group Environment America.

The report surveyed 67 cities across the U.S., focusing on solar capacity installed and compared it to the city’s population.

It found that photovoltaic systems in the U.S. produced 121 gigawatts of electricity – enough to power more than 23 million homes.

Johanna Neuman, director at Environment America, says Honolulu produced more than 1,100 watts of solar energy per person. Las Vegas followed in second, producing nearly 700 watts per person.

"Honolulu has on average three solar panels installed for every person that lives in the city," she said. "Honolulu is really leading the way, in terms of leaning into solar and all the self-reliance benefits that local solar production brings to a city."

While Honolulu leads the way in solar production, it is fourth in solar capacity — holding nearly 400 megawatts of electricity. In that category, Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas were ahead of Honolulu.

Neuman says that’s only because they are larger cities with more area. But overall, the state and the city are leading the country.

Neuman says the city is ahead with programs such as interest-free loans and an online permitting system.

"The other key thing that has been to Honolulu's success is that Hawaiʻi, as a state, has adopted a goal of getting all of its energy from 100% renewable sources," she told HPR. "In fact, Hawaiʻi became the first state in the country to set a goal like that. Since then, eight additional states have followed suit."

Neuman says the state and city can continue to lead the nation by creating an automated online permitting system to promote solar energy, and becoming more energy efficient.

Casey Harlow was an HPR reporter and occasionally filled in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
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