Colorado Ranks 8th in the Nation in Solar Power

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Environment Colorado Research & Policy Center

Denver – Today, Environment Colorado Research & Policy Center released Lighting the Way: What We Can Learn from America’s Top 12 Solar States, a new report highlighting a solar energy boom across the country. The report ranks Colorado 8th in the nation per capita for solar installations. This makes Colorado one of a dozen states that have led the nation in solar energy with supportive policies and a commitment to continued expansion. Last year, solar capacity in Colorado grew by 14.8% bringing it to a total of 270 Megawatts.

“The sky’s the limit on solar energy,” said Jeanne Bassett, Senior Associate with Environment Colorado. “Colorado’s progress should make us confident that we can do much more. Our message today is clear: If you want your state to be a leader in pollution-free solar energy, set big goals and get good policies on the books.”

Solar is on the rise across the country. America has more than three times as much solar photovoltaic capacity as it did in 2010, and more than 10 times as much as it did in 2007. Not only that, but the price of solar panels fell by 26 percent in 2012. Environment Colorado attributes the solar boom to the leadership of Colorado officials and those in other leading states profiled in the report.

“More and more, homes and businesses are turning to solar as a pollution-free energy source with no fuel costs,” said Bassett. “With the increasing threat of global warming, we must maintain momentum.”

The report emphasizes that it is not availability of sunlight that makes states solar leaders, but the degree to which state and local governments have created effective public policy for the development of the solar industry.

Other states profiled in the report include: Arizona, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina and Vermont. While these twelve states account for only 28 percent of the U.S. population, they make up 85 percent of the nation’s installed solar energy.

The report highlights the strong policies adopted by the top solar states that encouraged homeowners and businesses to “go solar.” Most notably:

  • 11 of the 12 have strong net metering policies, which allow customers to offset their electricity bills with onsite solar, and receive reliable and fair compensation for the excess electricity they provide to the grid.
  • 11 of the 12 states have renewable electricity standards, requiring utilities to provide a minimum amount of their power from renewable sources; and nine of them have solar carve outs, which set specific targets for solar or other forms of clean onsite power.
  • 10 of the 12 have strong statewide interconnection policies. Interconnection policies reduce the time and hassle required for individuals and companies to connect solar energy systems to the grid.

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

Environment Colorado was joined by the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSIA), in releasing the report.

“As the leader of Colorado’s solar industry, we know that solar friendly policies at the state and local levels are key to continuing success. The more than 200 solar businesses in Colorado that provide thousands of good jobs in local communities will continue to expand efforts to provide clean renewable energy with the help of progressive policies.” stated Edward Stern, Executive Director of COSIA.

“Today we gather to celebrate the solar success of our state but also to remember that we cannot lose the momentum we have gained,” concluded Bassett. “Right now only a small fraction of our energy comes from solar. By setting a bold goal of getting 10 percent of our energy from the sun by 2030, and adopting strong policies to back up that goal, Colorado can and will maintain the momentum it has gained and continue to pave the way for the rest of the country. In order to achieve this goal, we need the continued commitment from our state leaders to keep enabling policies to further increase solar development in Colorado.”