Solar Rankings Show Power Of Incentives

The hearty policy analysts of Solar Power Rocks have once again compiled their annual state-by-state solar rankings. And while there is much good news to be had, there is little in the way of surprise. That’s because financial incentives and investment returns on residential solar panel installations remain strong in traditionally progressive states — and top performers — like New York, Massachusetts, California and Oregon.

Meanwhile, states dominated by the coal, oil and gas industries like Alabama, Idaho, Georgia and Kentucky are predictably bringing up the rear. The reason continues to be that they, along with other renewable energy laggards like Arkansas and Oklahoma, have few to no policies and paybacks in place to reward conscientious solar adopters, dependent as they are on last century’s obsolete infrastructures and dirty fuels. “Lawmakers in the Cowboy State have really dropped the lasso on this one,” Solar Power Rocks wisecracks about Wyoming, although it might as well be speaking of all of the losers on its informative list.

Solar Power Rocks based its rankings on 12 criteria, with two particular aggregates — state solar policy and solar incentives — comprising 65 percent of its grand total. So if a state doesn’t have a robust Renewable Power Portfolio or tax credits, rebates and property tax exemptions to offers their citizens, they have no chance of digging their way out of the basement.

Like, for example, tiny Rhode Island, which nevertheless is “teetering on the edge of being a great state for solar,” Solar Power Rocks explains, “or a failure.” Like other vacillating states, including Ohio, Illinois and North Carolina — “perhaps no other state at such a critical juncture,” the rankings assert — that make up the middling middle, Rhode Island and other underachievers really need to step their rebates, credits and standards. Some states are kept from being outright duds simply because they have modest interconnection successes.

As usual in these types of rankings, Florida is particularly egregious in its lack of ambition, given that it likes to bill itself as the “Sunshine State.” Unsurprisingly, it is mostly Florida’s South and Southeastern neighbors that make up the states who need to go back to solar class. Not that the West Coast is error-free: Washington is ranked behind Florida, thanks to lazy lawmakers, although “a simple property tax exemption would really do a lot” to change that, according to Solar Power Rocks. After all, Washington’s next-door neighbor Oregon is the fourth-best state in the rankings, and it gets just as much rain. Same goes for snowy Connecticut, which is Solar Power Rocks’ choice for third best in the U.S.

In the end, there is an important takeaway from this fun, interactive state-by-state report card: Everyone, even the winners, need to up their game. There are no excuses, given that the explosive solar industry is supercharging portfolios on Wall Street and annihilating bills on Main Street. States need only activate no-brainer incentives to help America solarize on par with international heavyweights like Germany and China. Now’s the time.

This article appeared at Solar Energy