Ten States Are Effectively 'Blocking the Sun'

A lot has been written, and continues to be written, about states that are actively embracing renewable energy measures and the benefits being reaped from these measures.

However, much less has been written about states that are failing to make many efforts to promote renewables, especially solar. A recent report published by the Center for Biological Diversity, titled "Throwing Shade: 10 Sunny States Blocking Distributed Solar Development," shines light on these states.

According to the report, "Distributed solar energy plays a unique and critical role in creating a renewable energy future that stems climate change, promotes social justice, and protects biodiversity. Yet the expansion of this market in the United States relies in large part on state policies that determine whether solar panels are accessible and affordable."

The report notes that what it identifies as the 10 states with the best policy landscapes for supporting solar market growth have been actually driving the solar energy boom in the United States.

"In fact, the installed solar capacity in these states accounts for 86 percent of the total for the United States," the report states.

The report then identifies what it considers to be the 10 states that have significant potential for distributed solar, but "are blocking distributed solar potential through overtly lacking and destructive distributed solar policy."

These 10 states (in alphabetical order) are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

These 10 states, according to the report, account for more than 35 percent of the total rooftop solar photovoltaic technical potential in the contiguous United States, but only 6 percent of the total installed distributed solar capacity (according to data that the report accessed from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory).

The two worst states, according to the report, are Florida and Texas, which, combined, represent more than 16 of the total potential for distributed solar in the United States but currently only account for 2.7 percent of installed distributed solar.

What are these states doing (and not doing) to discourage the growth of distributed solar? According to the report:

  • Nine lack strong interconnection laws, making solar installation more difficult for homeowners and businesses.
  • Seven lack mandatory renewable portfolio standards (RPSs), and the three that do have mandatory RPSs have extremely low targets that have already been met.
  • Five have no solar access laws to protect homeowners and businesses from local restrictions on installations due to issues such as neighborhood aesthetics.
  • Three lack mandatory statewide net metering policies.
  • Only three allow for third-party ownership of solar panels, which allows those otherwise unable to afford solar to participate in a solar program.
  • None have community solar programs in place.

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