What Are The Best States for Solar?
More than 2 million residential solar systems are installed across the nation. This comes as no surprise with all the benefits that renewable energy has to offer. To get the most out of your commercial or residential solar system there are many things that you have to evaluate and consider. One major aspect is the amount of sunlight you get in your area each day. This factor has many individuals asking, “What are the best states for solar?”
Best Solar Capacity
California offers more installed solar capacity than any other state in the nation with more than 21,000 megawatts. That’s enough capacity to power 5.4 million homes! California outranks the remaining 49 states in the US.
North Carolina is next on the list of states with the best solar capacity in America with 4,308 megawatts. The state has enough capacity to power 486,339 homes. Far less than California, but a respectable number and growing every year.
Third, in the nation, Arizona has 3,400 megawatts of solar capacity. Arizona’s solar capacity numbers have doubled in the last five years and continue to climb. With these stats on our side, it is easy to see that more and more states are jumping aboard the solar power train.
Best Payback Period
The “payback period” is a metric that measures how many years it takes to recover the initial cost of the investment. Many different factors influence the payback period: changes in solar system cost, rising electricity costs, and hardy solar programs with big incentives. Which states have the lowest payback periods in the country?
Both New Jersey and Massachusetts take the prize for the shortest payback period. These two states claim a payback period of only 5 ½ years. In New Jersey, high electrical bills together with SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Certificate) have led to a quick return for homeowners.
Comparatively, the SREC program in Massachusetts along with its new “SMART” program (which includes big tax credits and solar performance incentives for homeowners and businesses) have created one of the shortest payback periods for solar in the nation.
California takes second place in the nation with a payback period of just under 6 years. New policies in the state prove that California is on top of the solar energy race. Allowing a new 100% clean energy law that encourages solar panels for all new homes in the state.
In third place, South Carolina. The state has experienced huge solar growth since new tech companies moved to the state in recent years. These companies signed contracts with South Carolina solar farms leading homeowners who install solar with a payback period of 7 ½ years. With a new net metering system in place, this state should see lots of solar growth in the coming years.
Best Solar Growth
Since we are discussing the best states in America for solar, we have to talk about the states currently experiencing huge solar growth. People all over the nation are turning to solar power, but some states are certainly leading the charge. Who is most interested in solar energy? Which state might be the next to experience huge solar growth? Here are the most likely candidates:
Currently, Virginia has had the biggest increase in solar interest in the US. As climate change has become an increasingly important topic in politics, interest in pursuing solar energy has increased. In just 3 years, significant changes in switching to clean, renewable solar power has more than doubled in the state.
Next, Nevada leads the pack in second place mostly due to the high temperatures. Nevada has greatly increased its residential solar in recent years and it’s not surprising. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of all that sunshine? Many homeowners in the state are choosing solar to power their homes for a fraction of the cost.
Finally, Illinois shows the third biggest increase in solar interest in the nation this year due to a new statewide program meant to encourage the development of solar projects. In 2017, developers responded by submitting tons of solar proposals increasing solar awareness all over the state. Chicago in particular experienced huge solar growth as a result of the new incentive.
Worst States for Solar
If we’re talking about the best states for solar, it’s also important to identify the states which lack when it comes to solar power. These states have the fewest number of options for solar power, the least number of solar homes, and very little investment in solar initiatives by the state government. These 5 states are considered the worst for solar in the nation:
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
Currently, there are fewer than 20 solar providers in each of these states. North and South Dakota have almost no homes with solar power. Alaska comes in as the lowest state for investing in solar at just $5 million. Compare this to California who has invested over $46 million in solar and it’s easy to see that these states are not comparable.
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Since solar power has proven to be a good option for renewable energy going forward, the federal government offers a tax credit that can be claimed on your federal income taxes. The credit reimburses homeowners for a percentage of the cost of their solar system. In 2020, the federal residential solar energy credit reimburses homeowners for 26%, but it decreases each year. Next year, the credit will only cover 22% of the total cost of a solar system installation.
Some states offer big tax incentives for adopting solar power too. Is your state one of them?
If you don’t live in one of the best states for solar, don’t despair. No matter where you live, switching to solar is a worthwhile investment. Solar frees you from rising electricity costs, saves you money, and helps to protect the environment. You can register with solar advocates in your area to stay on top of what’s happening in your own state and share your thoughts about solar energy.