2013-07-03

How Your State Compares For Cheapness Of Solar Power

Some states give people who try to use solar power a lot of incentives. Some, less so. New rankings grade all 50 states--with sadly unsurprising results.

Where you live affects how much you pay for solar. Take a look at this graphic from Solar Power Rocks, which advocates for better state-level policy. In Washington D.C., it will take five years to recoup what you pay for a 5MW system. In Georgia, for the same system, it will be more like 20 years.

The main reason is the level of state incentives. Some states offer feed-in tariffs, utility rebates, tax credits and exemptions, and so on. Others aren’t so generous. Some utilities are required to buy solar power, and to pay owners the what they’re charged to consume energy ("net metering"). Some aren’t.

Solar Power Rocks’s ranking takes a measure of all the policies in place, then assigns a grade (from A to F). It also ranks the states from 1 to 51 (including D.C.). On top is Massachusetts, which offers property and sales tax exemptions, mandates net metering, and has a "solar carve out" (a target for solar power). With 4.45 points out of five, it narrowly beats out Maryland (4.3), and New York (same score).

Here, for example, is what the report says about New York, which has a pay-back period of six years:

"Never content to follow the mold, the Empire state carved its own path to solar success; where Maryland and Massachusetts rest their solar-financial laurels largely on the backs of impressive performance payment programs, New York ratchets up the state rebate and tax credit programs to achieve even faster payback timeframes."

Meanwhile, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Wyoming all get an F grade. Oklahoma comes last in the ranking. It offers nothing in the way of incentives for residential installation, and its 15% "renewable portfolio standard" (its target for renewable energy production) is a goal that’s easy to ignore (other states penalize utilities for non-compliance).

Solar Power Rocks wants all states to implement the most supportive policies. But, until that happens, you’ll have to choose where to set up your solar panel. Better Massachusetts than Mississippi.

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2 Comments

  • Wayne Lusvardi

    This study is bogus because it just qualitatively considers solar installation incentives not the actual quantitative cost to produce solar power.

    Southern California has a stealth premium built into its solar power rates because it has a closed transmission line system which only transports electrons by direct current (not alternate current we use in our homes) so that the grid is not open for cheaper priced solar power from Arizona, or Nevada, or Idaho because those state do not have environmental laws like California.

    I'm sure this 'study' was paid for by the solar industry. 

  • Tyler

    Funny that here in Illinois the state is solar generous yet, we live in a climate not that favorable for the technology.  We also already harbor enormous debt?