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Your State’s Solar Policy Makes the Difference

For years, we’ve been writing about state solar policy and giving folks the straight dope on how their state’s incentives and laws will help them get solar for cheap. Looks like the good people at the National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL) have caught themselves up on all this solar hullabaloo.

In their recently-released study, “The Effect of State Policy Suites on the Development of Solar Markets,” NREL’s researchers applied some very solid science to describe why some states flourish with new solar installations while others flounder in solar purgatory, even though their citizens would really like to stop paying electric bills anytime now, thanks.

The study begins by discussing the reasons net metering and interconnection standards aren’t enough to jump-start solar installation in a state, but that the presence of just one more policy tool, whether it’s a Renewables Portfolio Standard with a solar carve-out (aka solar set-aside) or a simple law that allows for third-party ownership (TPO) of solar power systems.

And the presence of both a solar set-aside and third-party ownership produces truly special results. Check out this chart from the NREL study (and don’t worry that it’s too complicated, we’ll explain below):

What the chart above shows is the effect of good base policies (net metering and interconnection) with a combination of solar set-aside and/or TPO. The orange squares are states with net metering and interconnection policies and one of the two other policy factors, and the red diamonds are states with all four. It’s easy to see that states that have adopted these best practices have seen a veritable explosion in new solar installations over the last five years.

The best news—even for people in states that lack good solar policy—is prices are coming down as a result of all this solar development. The states with great policies are leading the way for the whole country to buy into cheap solar sometime in the next few years. But don’t let that stop you from buying now!

Great incentives still exist. Heck , North Carolina, a state with a really sweet tax credit but almost no other meaningful solar policy, ranked third in the nation for new solar installations in the third quarter of 2014. People are taking advantage of historically low prices and good tax credits because solar makes sense now.

To check your state’s policies, click on the interactive map on our home page, or sign up for free quotes from trusted expert solar installers in your area.

Last modified: July 5, 2016

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