AUSTIN – El Paso ranked 3rd in the state for solar energy capacity in the sixth edition of Shining Cities 2019: The Top U.S. Cities for Solar Energy, a new report by Environment Texas Research & Policy Center. The group pointed to a new solar energy bulk purchasing program available through the state and bills in the Legislature as opportunities to further boost the region’s use of solar energy.
With a total of 38 MW of solar energy capacity installed by the end of 2018, El Paso ranked ahead of Houston but behind San Antonio and Austin. El Paso has the potential to go much further on solar. According to Google’s Project Sunroof El Paso has 163,000 total rooftops suitable for solar which together could generate 3200 MW of energy.
“Each year we harness more and more of the enormous solar energy potential in Texas,” said Luke Metzger, Executive Director of Environment Texas. “We still have a long way to go, but leaders like El Paso are taking the steps necessary to power more homes, schools and businesses with clean energy from the sun.”
Metzger encouraged local governments to join the Texas Power Pool, a program of the State Energy Conservation Office which helps cities, counties and universities to aggregate their purchases of electricity to buy solar power at competitive rates. He also pointed to bills in the Legislature which would boost solar energy. HB 2860 (Raymond) would protect the rights of homeowners to install solar on their properties and SB 2068 (Menendez) would require new buildings be “solar ready.”
Solar energy helps El Paso in many ways, including by combating global warming, reducing air pollution, strengthening the electric grid, and stabilizing energy costs for residents. According to a new census of solar jobs by the Solar Foundation, 166 people work in the solar industry in El Paso County.
This year’s Shining Cities survey ranks 69 of the nation’s major cities by solar energy capacity. Honolulu ranks first overall for solar energy capacity per capita, while Los Angeles places No. 1 in total solar energy capacity installed.