The Environment America Research & Policy Center released a report on July 23 that ranks what the center has determined are the twelve best states for solar. Information about the report is available here. The criteria include total installed capacity, capacity installed in the past year, actual production of solar energy and policies that encourage solar energy. The states from first to twelfth are:
4. New Jersey
5. New Mexico
11. North Carolina
As the center notes, these states constitute only twenty-eight percent of the nation’s population but eighty-five percent of installed solar.
The experience of these states can provide lessons to other states in terms of what is required to be a leader in solar. The center has three observations that are particularly noteworthy. First eleven of the twelve have adopted net metering. Second, eleven of the twelve also have imposed a renewable energy standard on their utilities. Third, ten of twelve have enacted policies that simplify the process for a residential or distributed generation solar project to connect to the grid.
New York is not on the list, but Governor Andrew Cuomo with the NY-Sun Initiative inspires to have New York be competitive with the states above in terms of policies that support solar. For more on the NY-Sun Initiative, click here.
The report concludes with policy recommendations that include the continuation of the federal investment tax credit for solar projects. In my view, the federal investment tax credit (and the associated and now lapsed Treasury Cash Grant program) has been the most significant factor in promoting solar power in the United States.