States with some of the highest solar potential in the U.S. are hindering rooftop-solar development through poor policies, according to a recent report from the Center for Biological Diversity.
The report said that 10 states — Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin — account for more than 35 percent of the total rooftop-solar potential in the U.S., but have only 6 percent of total installed capacity.
“Thanks to weak and nonexistent policies, the distributed-solar markets in these states have never been given a chance to shine,” Greer Ryan, sustainability research associate with the Center and author of the report, said in an Aug. 26 statement. “There’s room for improvement in solar policies across all 50 states, but it’s especially shameful to see the sunniest states fail to lead the transition from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy.”
Credit: The Center for Biological Diversity
The report found that, of the 10 high-solar-potential states, seven are lacking mandatory renewable portfolio standards (RPS), while the three states with mandatory RPSs in place — Michigan, Texas and Wisconsin — have already met their low targets and have not taken steps to update their policies. In addition, the report said that Alabama, Tennessee and Texas have no mandatory net metering policy in place.
The report also noted that none of the 10 states have community solar programs in place and all but Virginia lack strong interconnection laws.
Texas, which stands in second place in rooftop solar potential behind California, is in 12th place in installed capacity, the report said, adding that the state’s legislature and regulators have consistently blocked progress on distributed solar policy for the last decade.
According to the report, the state public utilities commission (PUC) in 2005 blocked a non-wind resource carve-out for the state’s RPS, and in 2007, blocked a bill that would have mandated statewide net metering. In addition, in 2009, 2011 and 2013, efforts to circumvent the PUC’s authority to require that retail electricity providers offer net metering to their customers failed to pass the state legislature.