New Hampshire, USA -- A new report from the Environment America Research & Policy Center acknowledges what it deems are the top 12 U.S. states for solar energy ranked by several criteria, from new and cumulative installed capacity to actual electrical generation to a variety of solar energy-friendly policies. Most are unsurprising, but there are some worthy comparisons — and criticisms — to be made.
More descriptions will follow on the next few pages (ranked in reverse order, for suspense' sake), but nearly all of them share the same characteristics: clear renewable electricity standards with carve-outs for solar, strong statewide interconnection policies, strong net metering policies, and accommodation for creative financing options including third-party ownership and property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing.
Solar energy in the top 12 solar states (in red), vs. the rest of the U.S. Credit: Environment America Research & Policy Center
These 12 states account for barely a quarter of the nation's population (28 percent), but almost all of its installed solar energy (85 percent). "The progress of these states should give us the confidence that we can do much more," stated Rob Sargent, energy program director with Environment America. More than half of U.S. states have the technical potential to generate more than 20 percent of their electricity from rooftop solar PV, and that jumps to 30 percent for sun-drenched California, Arizona, Nevada and Colorado.
Groups contributing to the report included the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Vote Solar, Clean Energy States Alliance, Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, Environment California Research and Policy Center, Frontier Group, the Tilia Fund, the John Merck Fund and the Energy Foundation.
Lead image: Happy people in city, via Shutterstock