Some of the sunniest states in the country are actively blocking rooftop-solar development through overtly lacking and destructive policy landscapes, according to a Center for Biological Diversity report released Tuesday.
The 10 states highlighted in Throwing Shade: 10 Sunny States Blocking Distributed Solar Development—Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin—account for more than 35 percent of the total rooftop-solar technical potential in the contiguous U.S., but only 6 percent of total installed capacity.
“Thanks to weak and nonexistent policies, the distributed-solar markets in these states have never been given a chance to shine,” Greer Ryan, sustainability research associate with the Center for Biological Diversity and author of the report, said. “There’s room for improvement in solar policies across all 50 states, but it’s especially shameful to see the sunniest states fail to lead the transition from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy.”
The report assigned a policy grade to all 50 states based on the presence and strength of key policies that have aided solar expansion in the country’s leading solar markets, as well as policy and regulatory barriers that are used to hinder the distributed-solar industries. These grades, along with the technical potential for distributed-solar expansion in each state (based on the latest findings from National Renewable Energy Laboratory), determined which states were the country’s worst offenders.
This analysis follows recent high-profile net-metering policy fights in Nevada and California, two leading solar states. More than half of all states with net-metering programs in place saw efforts to weaken or eliminate these programs in 2015, despite the fact that it was the hottest year on record.
“These solar-policy fights are becoming more common at a time when we should be expanding rooftop solar as quickly as possible,” said Ryan. “By blocking solar expansion, states threaten the swift transition to a just and fully renewable energy system that’s needed to stave off the worst impacts of climate change and protect the health of communities, wildlife and the planet.”
The Center for Biological Diversity advocates for a swift transition to a fully renewable, just and wildlife-friendly energy system through ending all new fossil fuel development on public lands and waters and maximizing distributed-solar potential.