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Report: New Survey Shows How Electric Utilities & Policymakers Are Holding Back Local Solar

Based on our first ever survey of solar developers, ILSR’s new report shows how electric utilities and policymakers are creating unexpected delays and added costs for solar projects and slowing the growth of local solar. The report, 2021 Local Solar Developer Survey, seeks to identify the most common and impactful barriers to local solar through findings from the survey responses and interviews with distributed solar developers.

Survey participants from around the country identified a number of sources that cause project setbacks. In particular, a majority of survey respondents reported challenges with interconnection, the process of connecting local solar systems to the wider electric grid:

  • Just over three-quarters of respondents reported unexpected delays and/or costs as a result of changes to state interconnection policies.
  • 85% of respondents reported unexpected delays and/or costs as a result of utility noncompliance with state interconnection policies.

Other findings from the report include:

  • On top of interconnection issues, respondents commonly encountered solar roadblocks related to utility project queues, engineering study requirements, program capacity limits, unfair solar rates, and local permitting and regulations.
  • Survey respondents identified interconnection rules and costs, program capacity limits, and engineering study requirements as the barriers that have caused the longest delays and/or highest unexpected costs.
  • According to survey responses, these unexpected delays and costs have impacted thousands of solar projects in total.

If these issues are not resolved, many communities may lose out on the job-creating and money-saving benefits of bringing local solar to everyone, including working class families, people of color, and rural households. And as survey respondents pointed out, policymakers must address these challenges in order to meet clean energy goals and avert the worst impacts of climate change.

Read the report for more findings from the survey results and how these barriers have impacted local solar projects.

Originally published at  For timely updates, follow John Farrell on Twitter or get the Energy Democracy weekly update.

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Written By

John directs the Democratic Energy program at ILSR and he focuses on energy policy developments that best expand the benefits of local ownership and dispersed generation of renewable energy. His seminal paper, Democratizing the Electricity System, describes how to blast the roadblocks to distributed renewable energy generation, and how such small-scale renewable energy projects are the key to the biggest strides in renewable energy development.   Farrell also authored the landmark report Energy Self-Reliant States, which serves as the definitive energy atlas for the United States, detailing the state-by-state renewable electricity generation potential. Farrell regularly provides discussion and analysis of distributed renewable energy policy on his blog, Energy Self-Reliant States (, and articles are regularly syndicated on Grist and Renewable Energy World.   John Farrell can also be found on Twitter @johnffarrell, or at


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