Solar panels generate power at the Market One commercial building in Des Moines, Iowa.

The United States is aiming to bring emissions down to net zero in under 30 years, meaning the country would eliminate as much greenhouse gas as it emits. To reach that goal, Americans will need to get a lot more of their energy from renewable sources like wind and solar farms. The great news to share is that solar power is rapidly expanding as more and more major cities, as well as individuals, are investing in the sun’s renewable energy. 

  • Major cities stand to reap tremendous benefits from solar energy by harnessing the millions of available home rooftops.
  • In 2019, more solar capacity was installed into the national power grids than any other energy source. 
  • America currently has enough solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed to power more than one in every 10 homes in the country. 


Environment America is a national network of 30 state environmental groups with members and supporters in every state focusing on timely, targeted action that gains tangible improvements in the quality of the environment. 

  • They reported in their annual survey (2020) of solar energy in America’s biggest cities that solar power established in seven cities exceeded the amount installed in the entire United States at the end of 2010. That’s a big jump!
  • Of the 57 cities surveyed almost 90 percent more than doubled their total installed solar PV capacity between 2013 and 2019.

America’s Top Shining Cities By Solar Installed Per Capita (from highest to lowest):

  • Honolulu, HI
  • San Diego, CA
  • Albuquerque, NM
  • San Jose, CA
  • Burlington, VT
  • San Antonio, TX
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Riverside, CA
  • Denver, CO

By Total Solar Installed (from highest to lowest):

  • Los Angeles, CA
  • San Diego, CA
  • Honolulu, HI
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • San Antonio, TX
  • New York, NY
  • San Jose, CA
  • Albuquerque, NM
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Las Vegas, NV


All of the “Solar Stars” on the list have experienced dramatic growth in solar energy and are setting the pace nationally for solar energy development.

  • Nearly 45 percent of the cities surveyed in all seven editions of this report more than quadrupled their installed solar capacity from 2013 to 2019.

Leading solar cities can be found in every region of the country.

  • Pacific region- Honolulu.
  • Mountain region- Las Vegas.
  • North Central region- Indianapolis.
  • South Central region- San Antonio.
  • South Atlantic region- Washington, D.C.
  • Northeast region– Burlington.

Treehugger is a sustainability site that offers advice, clarity, and inspiration for both the eco-savvy and the green-living novice. They reported from the news gathered by the 

Sierra Club that American cities are working towards a common goal: choosing renewable energy sources over fossil fuels. The 2018 Case Study Report profiles 10 cities from coast to coast that are transitioning to 100 percent clean energy. They are:

  1. Denver
  2. Minneapolis
  3. St. Louis
  4. Orlando
  5. Concord, New Hampshire
  6. Columbia, South Carolina
  7. Denton, Texas
  8. Fayetteville, Arkansas
  9. Norman, Oklahoma
  10. Santa Barbara, California

Per the Sierra Club, more than 80 cities in the U.S. are moving in the direction of 100 percent clean energy use. A small but growing handful of American cities are already sourcing 70 percent or more of their energy needs from solar, wind, and geothermal.

  • Aspen, Colorado.
  • Burlington, Vermont.
  • Eugene, Oregon.
  • Greensburg, Kansas.

WIND shared a report from the U.S. Department of Energy stating that Rock Port, M.O. is now the first community in the United States to be totally powered by wind energy (*note there is no date on the report).

  • The 1,300 residents of Rock Port currently use approximately 13 million kilowatts of electricity per year. 
  • The city predicts that wind energy from four new wind turbines will account for 16 million kilowatts each year. 
  • The leftover energy power is purchased by Missouri Joint Municipal Utilities.
  • The 5-megawatt wind project built on agricultural lands within the city limits of Rock Port includes four Suzlon 1.25 MW turbines.

A map published by the U.S. Department of Energy indicates that northwest Missouri has the state’s highest concentration of wind resources and contains many locations suitable for utility-scale wind development.

  • Specialists at the University of Missouri (MU) Extension say there are excellent opportunities for sustainable wind power in northwest Missouri. 
  • There are currently 24 wind turbines in Atchison County. 
  • The specialists at MU estimate that the wind farms will bring in more than $1.1 million annually in county real estate taxes.
  • Landowners can make anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 when leasing part of their property for turbines.
  • It’s a savings for the community, the rural electric companies, and it will provide electricity service over at least a 20-year time period, which is the anticipated life of these turbines.

Oklahoma, Texas & Nebraska

These heartland states are thriving on a booming wind turbine business reports CNN. Normally an area devoted to oil and gas, Western Oklahoma is now home to one of the largest wind farms in the world.

  • For example, the Traverse wind farm is made up of 356 turbines, each rising about 300 feet above the ground and spread out across 220,000 acres. 
  • As they spin, they generate close to 1 gigawatt of energy; together with two other nearby wind farms, the trio will make enough electricity to power 440,000 homes each year.
  • Wind energy is on the brink of a massive expansion in the next few years, data from the US Energy Information Administration shows.
  • Wind generated nearly 380 terawatt-hours of energy in 2021, according to the EIA, which projects another 7.6 gigawatts of utility-scale wind will be brought online this year (a terawatt is a thousand times bigger than a gigawatt).

Texas is also right up there, generating more electricity from wind than Iowa, Kansas, and Oklahoma — the next three highest states — combined, according to the EIA.

U.S. Energy Information Adminstration

Many renewable energy sources are used to generate electricity and were the source of about 20% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2021. The U.S. Energy Information Adminstration’s chart (EIA) shows the renewable energy sources in the U.S. *Last updated: April 19, 2022, with preliminary data for 2021.

  • Biomass – about 1.3% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2021. Biomass is burned directly in steam-electric power plants, or it can be converted to a gas that can be burned in steam generators, gas turbines, or internal combustion engine generators.
  • Geothermal power plants – about 0.4% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2021. Geothermal power plants use steam turbines to generate electricity.
  • Hydropower – about 6.3% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2021. Hydropower plants use flowing water to spin a turbine connected to a generator.
  • Solar energy – about 2.8% of total U.S. electricity in 2021. Photovoltaic produces electricity directly from sunlight in a photovoltaic cell. Most solar-thermal power systems use steam turbines to generate electricity.
  • Wind energy – about 9.2% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2021. Wind turbines convert wind energy into electricity.

If you are interested in getting solar power in your home, this guide geared towards solar power in California will be helpful.

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