Solar Adoption is Highest in Median Income Zip Codes


Solar Adoption is Highest in Median Income Zip Codes

Solar adoption in California is greater in median income zip codes

Families in median income zip codes make up the majority of California’s home solar market, according to PV Solar Report analysis and SunRun.  Two thirds of California home solar installations in 2009, 2010, and 2011 year-to-date have been in zip codes with median annual household incomes of less than $85,000 and not in the wealthiest areas of the state.  In addition, the number of residential projects in lower income zip codes continues to increase as solar prices decrease. 

The findings are consistent with PV Solar Report’s list of Top Ten Solar Cities that published in October.  The top cities on the list are not California’s wealthiest and are home to more mainstream families.  For example, Bakersfield and Fresno are among the state’s top five solar cities with annual household incomes of about $50,000 and $43,000.  By comparison, Malibu, which was not even in the top 25, has a median annual household income of $160,000.  The percent of total installations in California’s highest income zip codes is only 2-3 percent.

“In 2007 we invented a way for homeowners to go solar without the high upfront costs so income would not prevent a switch to cleaner and less expensive energy,” said SunRun President and Co-founder Lynn Jurich.  “The data from PV solar report shows this model is working, and that it’s not just the wealthy driving and benefitting from solar adoption.  We are working to educate consumers that solar is finally affordable.”

“This is exactly the market transformation that the California Solar Initiative (CSI) was designed to achieve when it started in 2007,” adds SunRun Director of Government Affairs Ethan Sprague.

SunRun owns, insures and maintains solar panels and installs them on a homeowner’s roof.  Families pay a low monthly rate for clean energy, fixing their energy costs for 20 years.  This solar power service, also called third-party-owned solar, was the preferred choice among consumers in Q3 and represented 59 percent of the California residential solar market.  The service makes solar accessible to more Californians because families who could not afford cash purchase can now go solar.  One out of every four SunRun customers reporting income makes less $50,000 per year.

“It’s exciting to analyze how the industry is growing right now, especially when trends indicate that solar is becoming more mainstream and not just reserved for the wealthiest individuals,” said Stephen Torres, founder and managing director of PV Solar Report.  “Solar prices are coming down, it’s great for job growth from installing, financing, and servicing solar in local communities, and models like SunRun are helping drive growth because they eliminate large upfront investments.”

PV Solar Report’s findings also show that since 2007, growth in zip codes with median annual household incomes below $40,000 has been consistently higher than average growth across all zip codes.


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About SunRun

SunRun is the nation’s leading residential solar company and its mission is to become the nation’s largest energy provider. The company’s Total Solar product is the smart and affordable choice for homeowners who want a clean alternative to their utility. SunRun offers solar power service, similar to a lease, allowing homeowners to upgrade their home to solar for as little as $0 upfront and simply pay monthly for solar electricity. More than 14,000 homeowners have chosen SunRun across Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. SunRun partners with over 25 leading local solar installers, who together employ more than 3,000 green-collar workers. SunRun has raised financing for more than $750 million in solar systems from investors including U.S. Bancorp, and $85 million in venture capital from Accel Partners, Foundation Capital and Sequoia Capital. For more information, please visit:


About PV Solar Report

PV Solar Report is the leading authority on California solar market data with the mission of providing relevant, timely and succinct information to busy solar professionals. PV Solar Report publishes a daily digest for busy solar professionals, in-depth quarterly reports of the California residential solar market, and custom reports for solar company clients. PV Solar Report makes it easy for industry professionals to stay on top of the dynamic solar industry. For more information visit: