How does your state stack up against all the other states in the country when it comes to being solar friendly? Solar Power Rocks, an online solar power resource site, rates every state every year based on 11 criteria, then translates those rankings into an interactive chart. Each state gets an overall grade based on the data. For this year, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maryland, Washington, DC, New York, Oregon, and Connecticut all got an A rating. Louisiana and 8 other states got an F. If you want to take advantage of the interactive feature, click through to this year’s report on the Solar Power Rocks website.
Let’s take a look at the factors Solar Power Rocks considered when ranking the states for 2018. Methodology is important if anything like this is to have any credibility. These rankings are not some seat-of-the-pants, back-of-an-envelope guesstimates put together during a late night pub crawl, but instead required a great deal of detailed research.
Solar Policy Factors
50% of the 2018 rankings are based on the policies each state has in place to support solar power. Solar Power Rocks describes them this way. “Policy is one of the major categories that we use to determine how solar will fare in a state. All told, the 5 policy factors make up 50% of our weighting system. Good solar policy is like the bedrock of the future energy landscape — with a strong bunch of laws and regulations in place, you can be sure a state will be favorable for solar long into the future.” There are five factors in this category.
- Renewable Power Standard — Does the state have laws and regulations in effect that require utility companies to obtain a portion of their electricity from renewables by a certain date?
- Solar Power Carve Out — Does a state’s RPS require a portion of its renewable energy mandate come from solar?
- Electricity Prices — The higher the local price for electricity, the sooner a solar panel installation begins to pay for itself.
- Net Metering/Feed In Tariffs — The amount of money that utilities are required to pay customers for excess electricity that is supplied back to the grid.
- Interconnection Policies — How easy or difficult is it to make arrangements to connect a solar panel system to the local utility grid?
40% of the 2018 rankings relates to the incentives available in each state for utility customers to install solar panel systems.
- Solar Tax Credits — A tax credit reduces a person’s tax liability directly, which makes it more effective at reducing your total tax bill than a tax deduction.
- Solar Rebates — A rebate is a sum of money paid directly to the consumer to offset a portion of the installation price of a solar panel system.
- Performance Payments — these reward solar power customers with per kilowatt-hour bonuses or Solar Renewable Energy Certificates which can be cashed in to offset part of the cost of solar panel systems.
- Property Tax Exemptions — many jurisdictions do not allow the value of a solar panel system to increase the assessed value of a home or commercial property. Taxing such improvements acts as a disincentive to install solar power.
- Sales Tax Exemptions — Foregoing the collection of state and local sales taxes on solar panel systems can be another factor that encourages people to install solar power.
The final 10% of the 2018 assessment involves analyzing factors such as system payback time and what the organization calls the internal rate of return. Please go the Solar Power Rocks website for more detailed information on how these factors are calculated.
The interactive Solar Power Rocks rankings will tell you at a glance how your state compares to other states when it comes to providing a climate that encourages or discourages the installation of private solar panel systems. The Solar Power Rocks home page also features online tools to help home owners and small business owners decide whether a solar panel system is a wise investment for them.
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