The City of Palo Alto Utilities ranked first place nationally for the greatest amount of solar watts per customer installed in 2016. Palo Alto is one of a select group of utilities that connected the most solar to the grid in 2016, earning it the top spot on the annual Top 10 utility industry lists compiled by the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA). This is the fourth time Palo Alto has made SEPA’s Top 10 list of utilities. Awards were announced yesterday at the Utility Solar Conference in Tucson, Arizona.
In survey results released April 26, the City of Palo Alto Utilities ranked number one with 2,753 watts per customer installed in 2016. The 10th annual survey includes figures from 412 utilities across the country for solar connected to the grid both in 2016 and in total since 2007.
Palo Alto has a long history of providing innovative and progressive programs on the cutting edge of environmental sustainability. Forward-thinking community support for renewable energy has encouraged development and growth of comprehensive solar electric programs, including residential and commercial rebates, expedited solar permit processing, energy evaluation services and incentives, workshops, one-on-one advice and coordination with industry representatives. SEPA awarded Palo Alto with Public Power Utility of the Year in 2014 in recognition of these achievements and its advancement of solar power.
“Our multi-pronged approach to solar development includes not only offering a wide variety of ways for individual customers to implement and support solar, but also practicing what we preach,” said Ed Shikada, assistant city manager and general manager of Utilities. “Our utility is investing in solar power as a resource, and we currently have 150 megawatts of utility-scale solar in our electric supply. The entirety of our programs, investments and incentives reflect Palo Alto's commitment to continued evolution of our 100% carbon-neutral electric portfolio.”
The City brought online three large-scale solar projects through power purchase agreements in 2016 – in addition to two others it brought online in 2015 – and now has more than 150 MW of solar power commitments throughout California. Solar energy supplies about one-third of Palo Alto’s total electricity needs on an annual basis.
“One of the reasons we started the Utility Solar Top 10 lists back in 2007 was to highlight the key, but often unrecognized role utilities were taking in putting new solar on the grid,” said SEPA president and CEO Julia Hamm. “At this pivotal moment in the U.S. energy transition, the industry leaders on this year’s Top 10 lists, such as the City of Palo Alto Utilities, will continue to be critical to the growth of solar, storage and other distributed energy resources on the grid.”
The full Top 10 listings are available online at www.sepatop10.org.