Florida’s Top Cities for Solar Energy
March 29, 2022
—Ryann Lynn, Environment Florida Research and Policy Center
The Environment America Research and Policy Center, a national network of environmental groups, released a report ranking the nation’s top solar energy cities.
The report recognized four Florida cities for their use of solar energy. However, a fifth “Solar Star” city is making big moves, despite not having the population numbers to make the list.
Has an organization recognized your Florida city for its use and low cost of solar energy? It’s no surprise that residents of the Sunshine State are doing their part in harnessing the state’s most abundant resource. Moreover, Florida’s prices for going solar are slightly below the national average.
Jacksonville comes in among Florida’s top solar cities, ranking No. 19 in the nation. The abundance of sunshine (nearly 1,800 peak sun hours annually) and local incentives make going solar even more attractive.
In addition to fighting climate change, many people are interested in using solar energy to cut their expenses. Solar panel purchases are exempt from sales tax in Jacksonville, so buyers save 6% outright.
You can also look forward to saving roughly $800 during your first year of solar panel use. Furthermore, properties with solar panels are increasing in value.
It’s also important to realize that the increase in home resale value comes in before taxes — a win-win scenario for solar panel users.
- Property tax exemptions
- Investment tax credit (ITC)
- State sales tax exemptions
We may think of Florida as being sunny year-round, but summer storms cause some cloudy days. Luckily, Tampa residents and business owners can switch between the electrical grid and solar panels as needed.
Plus, Tampa Electric Company (TECO) makes it easy for users to send their excess energy back to the grid. In turn, this allows residents to gather solar credits thanks to net metering.
[Related: Eco-Friendly Stores in Tampa We Love]
Orlando comes in at No. 32 on the national list of top solar cities. The cost of purchasing solar panels in Orlando — and in Florida in general — is lower than the national average.
For example, some cities see price tags close to $35,000, but Orlando residents and business owners see an average of $10,000 to $13,000. This initial cost difference, plus local rebates and incentives, makes going solar in Florida an attractive option.
Purchasing solar panels in Miami is slightly more expensive than doing so in Orlando. Regardless, it’s much less costly than in the rest of the country. Miami ranks No. 53 on the national list of best solar cities.
Initial investment is between $12,000 and $15,000, but many incentive programs may further offset that cost. Then, Florida’s sales tax exemption and local, state and federal incentives make going solar in Miami a long-term cost-saving solution.
Tallahassee didn’t make the national list, but that doesn’t mean you should write it off in terms of going solar. The city is unranked only because it didn’t meet the report’s population requirements — it still has an impressive solar capacity.
For example, the Tallahassee International Airport has a 64-megawatt solar farm. That alone provides enough solar energy to name the city a “Solar Star.”
Florida’s capital continues to make notable steps in its efforts to reach fully net clean, renewable energy by 2050.
According to Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey, “With the completion of our second solar farm at our airport, we are a national leader producing 328 watts of solar energy per resident, and we are the first city in Florida to power 100 percent of our city buildings with solar energy.”
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