02 September 2014 | Posted by Zachary
Environment America has released a new report examining the top US state per capita. California gets most of the attention in the US for its solar power leadership, but if you take into account the fact that California is simply a huge state, its leadership is less impressive. In fact, it's not the top state for solar power per capita.
First of all, however, it's important to note that solar power has grown by leaps and bounds in the US in the past decade. In 2003, 93 megawatts of solar power were installed in the US. At the end of 2013, that number was up to 12,000 megawatts. Furthermore, the growth continues. 74% of new electricity generating capacity added in the US in the first quarter of 2014 came from solar power.
But there's no denying that some states have led the way. 10 states that together have 26% of the country's population have 87% of its solar power capacity.
These top 10 states and their solar power capacity per capita (in watts per person) are:
1. Arizona (275)
2. Hawaii (243)
3. Nevada (161)
4. California (148)
5. New Jersey (136)
6. New Mexico (113)
7. Delaware (82)
8. Massachusetts (66)
9. Colorado (63)
10. North Carolina (57)
Of course, to be a leader, you have to do something. All of these states have policies supporting the development of solar power. Some have rebates, some have solar pwer targets/requirements, some have tex credits, some have PACE financing, and all allow homeowners to get credits on their electric bills for extra solar power they send back to the grid.
There are many reasons to incentive solar power. Environment America notes a few:
*Solar photovoltaics (PV) produce 96 percent less global warming pollution per unit of energy than coal-fired power plants over their entire life cycle, and 91 percent less global warming pollution than natural gas-fired power plants.
*Solar energy benefits consumers by reducing the need for expensive investments in long-distance transmission lines.
*Solar energy can lower electricity costs by providing power at times of peak local demand.
*The cost of installed solar energy systems has fallen by 60 percent since the beginning of 2011.
*Solar energy creates local clean energy jobs that can’t be outsourced. More than 140,000 people currently work in America’s solar energy industry, about half of them in jobs such as installation that are located in close proximity to the places where solar panels are installed.