Which States Have the Strongest Solar Policy?

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Solar Power Rocks has released its annual ranking of states with the strongest solar power policy. The site has been tracking solar policy since 2007, so it is quite familiar with the happenings in the industry. Most of these states are probably familiar to people who follow solar, but the specifics may still surprise some.

The top ten are:

  1. New York
  2. Massachusetts
  3. Connecticut
  4. Oregon
  5. New Jersey
  6. Colorado
  7. Maryland
  8. Minnesota
  9. Vermont
  10. New Mexico

This helps to show how solar policy is more important than actual sunshine, as many of these northern states are rapidly adopting more solar. New York is ranked as the top state thanks to the strong policy that is in place, as well as the governor’s long-term commitment to solar energy.

The site used several factors when determining a state’s ranking. State solar policy accounted for 20% of the score, electricity cost for 15%, solar incentives for 45%, payback and internal rate of return for 10%, and net metering and interconnection for 10%. A further breakdown can be seen below.

State Solar Rankings

Every state is ranked, and in-depth details about each state can also be viewed. Surprisingly, despite having the most solar, California is ranked at #12 on the list. This is a little deceiving though, as the state’s rebate program was already so successful that it is no longer needed. As such, its incentives score is hurt by this. The report goes on to praise California as a benchmark-setting location for solar policies.

One particularly interesting piece of data from this ranking was the average time it takes a homeowner’s system to pay for itself. In almost all of the top states, a 5 kW solar system pays for itself in ten years or less. While this is a small piece of a state’s overall ranking, it can be quite important to the growing number of homeowners who are looking to own their solar systems.

While policy is not the sole determiner in solar being successful, it clearly helps. The Solar Power Rocks guide goes a long way toward showing which states have the strongest policy in place, and thus where solar can be most effective.