These top 12 states provide 85% of US solar power

Clare Saxon Ghauri
26 July 2013

NEW YORK: A new solar boom is unfolding across America, with the top 12 solar states providing 85% of the nation’s installed solar energy.

The top 12 American states: Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, New Jersey, New Mexico, California, Delaware, Colorado, Vermont, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Maryland, are ranked by solar capacity per capita, in a new report: Lighting the way: What we can learn from America’s top 12 solar states, by the Environment America & Policy Center.

Policy impact

The authors highlight how the availability of sunlight does not improve a state's solar leadership, but rather the level of the state's effective public policy does.

Comparing the common characteristics of the leading solar states, key findings show:

  • 11 of the 12 states have strong net metering policies, allowing customers to offset electric bills with onsite solar and receive compensation for excess energy that they deliver back to the grid
  • 11 of the 12 have renewable electricity standards that require utilities to source a minimum amount of their power from renewables
  • Most of the top states have creative financing options, such as third-party power purchase agreements

Rob Sargent, energy program director with Environment America, said: “The progress of these states should give us the confidence that we can do much more. Being a leader in pollution-free solar energy means setting big goals and backing them up with good policies.”

Top states

One of these leading solar states, Maryland, was in the media earlier this month for its partnership between SolarCity and Walmart, which is boosting solar energy in the state.

Governor O’Malley said in a statement: “Building our state’s solar market is a top priority in Maryland. Our renewable energy portfolio standard and energy consumption reduction goals are among the most aggressive in the country. Today, we have more than 1,410 times more solar on our state’s grid and 2,000 more solar installation jobs than in 2007. Together, we can create a more sustainable future for generations to come."

Solar growth

Solar energy use is rising across America, with US PV installations totaling 3.3 gigawatts in 2012 – a 76% increase over 2011, and solar installment prices are continuing to fall.

Even outside of the top states, governments are scaling up investment in solar power. Earlier this year the State of New York committed US$54 million in funding for solar projects through Governor’s Cuomo’s NY-Sun Initiative.

Amy Davidsen, US Executive Director for The Climate Group, said: “Competitive prices, innovative financing options and supportive government policies are all contributing to more and more Americans adopting clean solar energy for their homes and businesses. These 12 states are showing what is possible when governments commit to a cleaner future."

Related news:

Maryland providing affordable, reliable energy for local economies with SolarCity partnership

America has record year for renewables, with California ranked top clean tech state

New York solar projects get $54 million through Governor Cuomo initiative

By Clare Saxon

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