BALTIMORE, MD – Today, Environment Maryland Research & Policy Center released Lighting the Way: What We Can Learn from America’s Top 12 Solar States, a new report highlighting the solar energy boom across the country. The report ranks Maryland 12th in the nation per capita for solar installations. This makes Maryland one of the dozen states that have led the nation in solar energy with supportive policies and a commitment to continued expansion. Last year, solar capacity in Maryland grew by 68%, bringing it to a total of 109 Megawatts.
“The sky’s the limit on solar energy,” said Courtney Abrams, Clean Energy Advocate for Environment Maryland. “Maryland’s progress to date 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 Maryland attributes the solar boom to the leadership of Maryland officials and those in other leading states profiled in the report.
“Building our State’s solar market is a top priority in Maryland. Our renewable energy portfolio standard and energy consumption reduction goals are among the most aggressive in the country,” said Governor O’Malley. “Today, we have over 1525 times more solar on our State’s grid as well as 2,000 more solar installation jobs than in 2007. Together, we can create a more sustainable future for generations to come.”
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.
“Maryland has taken important steps to promote solar energy and it is gratifying that we are in the forefront of state action. While obstacles remain, I am hopeful that we can expand upon these first steps, reach our full solar potential and reduce our reliance on climate-altering fossil fuels,” said Maryland Senator Paul Pinsky.
Other states profiled in the report include: Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina and Vermont.
“The success of Maryland’s solar industry is largely a result of the industry’s cooperative efforts with solar advocacy groups, environmental organizations, local government and the O’Malley administration and especially the Maryland Energy Administration,” said Tony Clifford, CEO of Standard Solar. “This collaboration is key to continuing the growth of Maryland’s solar economy and reinforcing Maryland’s leadership on the national level.”
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.
“By developing solar power, Maryland is clearing the air and protecting the health of its residents,” said Barbara Gottlieb, Director of Environment and Health at Physicians for Social Responsibility. “This reduces ozone pollution, fine particle pollution and carbon pollution and helps protect us from lung damage, heart attacks, cancer and climate change. Maryland, this is bright!”
“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 Abrams. “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, Maryland 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 Maryland.”