Most Attractive States For Investing In Solar

by Zachary Shahan.

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Originally published on Cost of Solar.

–> See how much money solar power could save you!

There are a lot of ways to evaluate the attractiveness of a place for renewable energy or solar energy investment, and to evaluate the best solar states. Of course, it depends on what factors and assumptions you take into account, as well as what segment of the market you are actually evaluating.

One of the leading evaluators of such markets is Ernst & Young (EY). The “professional services firm” recently released its most up-to-date renewable energy attractiveness indices for the US, including a solar energy index. The report includes solar market data for 2012 as well as a well-researched ranking of states by their solar energy investment attractiveness. The overall summary is clear, as we have been writing for months here on CostofSolar.com: the US solar market is booming.

US Solar Market Booming

“In 2012 the US installed 3,313 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity, with 1,300 MW coming in Q4 alone, surpassing both annual and quarterly records. Even with falling costs the dollar value of the market size of the US solar industry grew 34% in 2012,” EY writes. “The cumulative total of solar PV in the US is now at 7,221 MW, with cumulative PV installations exceeding 300,000 individual units.”

A new solar panel installation is now occurring every 4 minutes in the US, according to an analysis from GTM Research.

Solar Leasing Is Hot

As I’ve reported a few times previously, solar leasing is hot. This is partly due to the fact that residential solar power has become quite cheap, and partly due to the fact that people are attracted to $0 down purchasing options, especially when the products (i.e., solar panels) save them money from Day 1. This makes going solar a no-brainer (even more than it already is).

EY writes: “Third-party ownership or leasing of rooftop solar PV systems in the US accounted for more than 50% of the residential and commercial market in 2012. Average residential system prices dropped nearly 20% between Q4 2011 and Q4 2012, and industry experts expect this segment of the market to surge as third-party financing options spread throughout the country.”

US Southwest Is Hot

The leading states are largely in the Southwest, thanks in part to its tremendous solar energy potential, but there are some outliers.

“The top five states for solar electric capacity installed in 2012 were California (becoming the first state to install over 1,000 MW in a single year), Arizona, New Jersey, Nevada and North Carolina, while the leaders in cumulative solar capacity installed through 2012 were California, Arizona, New Jersey, Nevada and Colorado.”

The 10 most attractive states for solar energy investment, according to EY, are now:

Best Solar States For Return On Investment (ROI)

Overall, I find the EY report very useful, as it includes fairly comprehensive policy and market analyses, and even does so for the top solar states.

However, as people who have read me for awhile know, I’m a big fan of relative rankings… of which there are very few. Looking at absolute rankings such as total solar power capacity, you miss who is leading the way on a per capita or per GDP basis. And you miss which states offer the best return on investment for a single residential solar power system.

If you’re curious about the latter, you may have noticed that we’ve already shared a great ranking on that, which changed the above order a bit to come up with this top 10 ranking:

  1. Hawaii — 24% IRR
  2. DC (if you want to include it) — 20% IRR
  3. New York — 17% IRR
  4. Connecticut — 16% IRR
  5. Colorado — 15% IRR
  6. Massachusetts — 15% IRR
  7. New Mexico — 13% IRR
  8. California — 12% IRR
  9. South Carolina – 12% IRR
  10. Delaware – 12% IRR
Best Solar States Per Capita

At the end of 2012, the top solar states for installed solar power per capita ranking shuffles the top solar states around yet again:

top-solar-states-per-capita-total

Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica. Data Credit: GTM Research / SEIA.

top-solar-power-states-per-capita-total-solar

Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica. Data Credit: GTM Research / SEIA.

Best Solar States… Depends On Your Aims

In the end, I think all of this data is quite interesting. And it offers useful lessons of different types. The EY ranking is certainly useful to investors and major companies who want to figure out the policies and market of one or more states in order to invest in solar projects for the best return on investment (ROI). It also helps show how large states and even countries can better promote solar power.

The solar ROI study briefly mentioned after that is actually useful for the same thing (through slightly different data and research). But it’s also useful for individual homeowners or small businesses who are considering the switch to solar.

And the per capita rankings show us who the true state leaders are, showing us which states’ solar or electricity policies would be most worth emulating.

But, really, for our main audience (the common Joe), there’s simply one thing to do: find out how much solar power could save you, get connected to the best installer for your money in your region, and go solar so that you can start savings tens of thousands of dollars off your electricity bills.

The longer you wait to make the switch, the more money you are throwing away on dirty power from a monopolistic utility company. And the fact is, you can get an estimate of how much you’d save in less time than it takes to watch another cat video or Gangnam Style.

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This article, Most Attractive States For Investing In Solar, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Zachary Shahan is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he’s the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he’s the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.

US Cities In Which The Fewest People Drive To Work

by Nicholas Brown

Percentage of commutes done by bike, public transportation, and foot.
Percentage of commutes done by bike, public transportation, and foot.Image Credit: IQC.

The US is such a large country, that it has co-cultures and is almost like multiple countries in one. As a part of that, people’s habits and the accessibility of transportation options vary significantly throughout the country.

For example, in Oklahoma City, only 2.2% of people travel to work without cars. Tulsa and Fort Worth are tied just an edge above that. Notably, Tulsa is also in Oklahoma – its second-largest city. Meanwhile, in New York City, 67% of people travel to work without cars. It’s a world of difference.

Leading the nation at 67%, NYC’s subway system and density are surely big parts of that. There is also the fact that intense congestion (largely a result of high density) in some parts of the city can deter people from driving, as they don’t appreciate long waits in traffic.

The Institute For Quality Communities, which is at the University of Oklahoma, gathered data from Census metrics of how Americans usually travel to work to come to  the above conclusions. Here are more of their findings:

Next are charts where it is broken down by region and individual mode share.

Here’s the Northeast & Mid-Atlantic:

Image Credit: IQC.
Image Credit: IQC.

The Midwest:

chart-3
Image Credit: IQC.

The Southeast:

chart-4
Image Credit: IQC.

Finally, here are cities where bike transportation increased significantly over the last decade:

chart-5
Image Credit: IQC.

Congratulations to these cities for their strong and effective support for bicycling. Let’s see if these cities can surpass New York’s public transportation usage rate someday!

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This article, US Cities In Which The Fewest People Drive To Work, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Nicholas Brown has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, geography, and much more. My website is: Kompulsa.

DC SEU Wins EPA Sustained Excellence Award

EPA RECOGNIZES DC SEU AND NORTHEAST ENERGY EFFICIENCY INITIATIVE WITH 2013 ENERGY STAR® SUSTAINED EXCELLENCE AWARD

The DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DC SEU) in partnership with Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships earns award for protecting the environment through energy efficiency.

Press Release March 5, 2013 (Washington, DC) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded the DC Sustainable Energy Utility a 2013 ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence Award as part of the Northeast Retail Products Initiative in recognition of its continued leadership in protecting our environment through energy efficiency. The initiative, facilitated by Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) and made up of utilities and energy efficiency program administrators in New England, New York, and Washington D.C., will be recognized at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. on March 26, 2013.

In 2012, the DC SEU sold more than 43,000 compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs). This year, the DC SEU has already sold more than 80,000 CFLs and now offers rebates for ENERGY STAR qualified light-emitting diodes (LEDs), clothes washers, and refrigerators.

“Working with local retailers, the DC SEU is committed to ensuring energy-efficient products are available to all District residents throughout the city.” — Ted Trabue, Managing Director of the DC SEU.

An ENERGY STAR Partner since 2000, the Northeast Retail Products Initiative will be honored for its long-term commitment to energy efficiency. During the last thirteen years, the Initiative has won 14 awards including six Excellence Awards.

“Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships is committed to speeding the adoption of high efficiency products in the region through our partnership with the DC SEU in the Retail Products Initiative.

By leveraging our resources, our initiative, which collectively serves over fifteen million households, [DC SEU] is able to yield more energy and cost savings for families and businesses than through individual program efforts.

We are very proud of the DC SEU for their tremendous efforts in helping to make the Northeast a sustained leader in energy efficiency.

Our success for the region is a direct result of the commitment they dedicate to accelerating energy efficiency for our environment, our economy, and our communities.” — Sue Coakley, Executive Director of NEEP.

For over 20 years, with help from ENERGY STAR, American families and businesses have saved more than $230 billion on utility bills and prevented more than 1.8 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

The 2013 Sustained Excellence Awards are given to a select group of organizations that have exhibited outstanding leadership year after year. These winners have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by setting and achieving aggressive goals, employing innovative approaches, and showing others what can be achieved through energy efficiency. Award winners are selected from about 20,000 organizations that participate in the ENERGY STAR program.

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ABOUT the DC SEU

Created by the City Council as part of the Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008 (CAEA), the DC SEU is managed by the Sustainable Energy Partnership under contract to the District Department of the Environment (DDOE).

For more information on the DC SEU, visit: www.dcseu.com 

ABOUT NEEP

NEEP is a regional non-profit whose mission is to serve the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic to accelerate energy efficiency in the building sector through public policy, program strategies and education. NEEP’s Market Strategies team supports the collaboration of energy efficiency program administrators and other key stakeholders in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states to achieve long-term cost-effective energy savings by broadening the market availability and consumer demand for high quality, energy efficient products and services.

Visit www.neep.org for more details.

JOHN BRIAN SHANNON

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