An increasing number of solar panels in San Antonio has bumped the city up two places on a national environmental nonprofit’s solar ranking list compared to last year.

San Antonio is now No. 6 in the country for installed solar capacity, according to an analysis by Environment America. San Antonio overtook New York City after installing 44 megawatts of solar capacity from 2016 to 2017, and is the only Texas city to rank in the Top 10.

Austin trails San Antonio in 17th place, the only other city in Texas to make the Top 20.

“The progress San Antonio’s made has been very impressive,” said Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas, the Austin-based branch of the national group.

He cited CPS Energy’s multiple solar incentives and the City’s installation of solar panels on public buildings as reasons for the increasing use of solar power in San Antonio.

A change in the group’s methodology compared to previous years also helped San Antonio jump ahead of Indianapolis in the rankings.

San Antonio now has 161 megawatts of solar generation capacity within the city limits, compared to 117 megawatts in 2016. That puts it behind only Los Angeles, San Diego, Honolulu, Phoenix, and San Jose, California, according to the report.

Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger presents a report on San Antonio’s solar ranking as (from left) One80 Solar President and CEO Patrick Attwater, city Chief Sustainability Officer Doug Melnick, and CPS Energy Chief Operating Officer Cris Eugster look on. Credit: Brendan Gibbons / Rivard Report

Most of that capacity has been installed by San Antonio’s roughly 60 private solar installers, which support an estimated 700 jobs, CPS Energy Chief Operating Officer Cris Eugster said.

Patrick Attwater, president and CEO of solar installer One80 Solar, said his company considered starting its business in several other states before deciding on San Antonio because of CPS Energy’s incentives, particularly its solar rebate.

“We really do have a great foundation to support the growth of our company,” Attwater said.

The analysis does not factor in CPS Energy’s large-scale solar farms outside the city limits. That amounts to another 550 megawatts, Eugster said.

“It’s all of us working together on this vision of a cleaner environment,” Eugster said.

Despite the progress, the majority of power supplied to CPS Energy customers still comes from fossil fuels.

In 2017, approximately 33 percent of that power came from coal, and 20 percent came from natural gas, according to CPS Energy figures. Another nearly 30 percent came from nuclear and 15 percent from wind and solar.

The remaining roughly 2 percent came from power purchased via the state’s electrical grid.

Brendan Gibbons

Brendan Gibbons

Brendan Gibbons is the Rivard Report's environment and energy reporter.