Wondering how the solar industry is doing these days? Just take a look at the Solar Energies Industries Association’s latest Solar Market Insight Report, revealing blazing hot growth in the industry for Q2 of 2014.
Strong growth in solar means more jobs and greater availability of the technology. But don’t expect an even distribution of benefits. “While the entire country benefits from increased solar energy capacity, the placement of these renewable energy facilities is anything but uniform,” comments Care2 blogger Beth Buczynski. Indeed, a handful of states enjoy the bulk of solar returns.
You might be surprised to learn that a strong solar economy has little to do with the amount of sunshine a state receives. Instead, it’s all about financial policy.
“Individual U.S. jurisdictions have had tremendous amounts of success in subsidizing the cost of solar power installation for homeowners and business owners,” writes Steve Wright, a guest contributor to CSR Wire. “States that offer a wide range of subsidies and credits are sure to become even more attractive to solar-powered businesses in the years to come.” Policy analyst Pierre Bull agrees, commenting, “The path to rapid solar deployment leads right through state government, where strong and persistent political leadership has spurred much of the nation’s solar growth.”
So which states are the best and worst for solar?
“Without us comparing the impact of their decisions in an apples to apples sort of way, no state would be held accountable for poor policy, because (for example) most people wouldn’t take the time to understand why an RPS solar carve out is something worth enacting into law compared to a property tax exemption,” say Dave Llorens and Dan Hahn at SolarPowerRocks.com. This solar activist duo recently rated all 50 states for solar friendliness, and compiled a state-by-state solar ranking for 2014.
Here’s the scoop:
Out of the top 10 solar states, six are located on the East Coast, including the top four ranked solar states in the country: Massachusetts, Maryland, New York and Delaware. (Colorado breaks the trend, coming in fifth.) State incentives such as renewable energy tax credits and rebates, performance payment programs like net metering and Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs), and the availability of solar leasing and other financing options pave the way for a robust solar economy in these states.
And at the other end of the spectrum? If you took a paintbrush to a U.S. map and swiped right down the center from north to south, you’d hit a majority of the 10 worst states for solar in 2014. These include North Dakota, Mississippi, Arkansas and — dead last — Oklahoma as the bottom four.
What to do with this information?
The numbers are there for you to use. If your state isn’t supporting solar as much as you’d like, consider showing them to your legislators and making the point — as Rosalind Jackson is doing in Mississippi — that strong support for solar will benefit everyone in your state.