Twelve US solar states prove effectiveness of policy

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The impact of policy on the growth of solar was underscored today by a new report examining the effect of state mandates and incentives on the industry.

The report from the Environment America Research & Policy Centre named the top 12 states which lead on solar initiatives and installations.

The “dazzling dozen” states account for only 28% of the US population but 85% of the installed capacity.

Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina and Vermont – possess strong policies that are enabling increasing numbers of homeowners, businesses, communities and utilities to “go solar,” the report said.

“The pathway to a solar future laid out by the Dazzling Dozen is open to every state,” said the report. “By following their lead and implementing a new wave of public policies to expand access to solar energy, the United States can work toward the goal of getting at least 10% of our energy from the sun by 2030.”

Lighting the Way: What We Can Learn from America’s Top 12 Solar found broad-ranging consistencies in effective policy among the dozen states:

• 11 of the 12 leading states have strong net metering policies;

• 11 of the 12 states have renewable electricity standards;

• nine have solar carve outs;

• 10 have strong statewide interconnection policies;

• the majority of the top solar states allow for creative financing options such as third-party power purchase agreements and property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing.

Rob Sargent, energy programme director with Environment America, said: “The sky’s the limit on solar energy. 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.”

Rhone Resch, president and chief executive of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said: “This report highlights leadership in some states and the absence of leadership in some of those states that aren't listed. It emphasises the importance of good policy. These policies are not subsidies these are basic free market principles, this is about access to the marketplaces, making sure we create competition and allowing homeowners to [go] solar.

“It's important for states to know what solar resources they have and develop policies to help grow that market. It's clear from the study that these policies are exactly the kind of smart solar policies that create markets in this country.”

In the first quarter of this year 50% of new generating capacity was solar and 5GW of new capacity is forecast to be installed in 2013.

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