Delaware among the top solar-producing states

The Environment America Research and Policy Center has ranked Delaware seventh in the country for solar power per capita.

The organization recently released its latest report, “Lighting the Way, What We Can Learn from America’s Top Solar States,” which shows the data on what solar-producing states are doing right and how other states can follow suit.

“The main point we want to make in this report, which ranks the top 12 states per capita solar, is that solar is on the rise in the U.S.,” said Rob Sargent, energy program director for Environment America. “In 2012, solar capacity in the United States nearly doubled. That is to say, there was almost as much solar installed in 2012 as had been installed prior to that.”

He added that 85 percent of the solar capacity in the United States comes from 12 states representing just 12 percent of the population.

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The report found that most solar production comes from states with strong solar policies in place.

“Eleven of the 12 leading states have strong net metering policies, which allow customers to offset their electric bills for onsite solar and receive fair compensation,” Sargent said. “Eleven of the 12 states have renewable electricity standards, including nine of them that have explicit minimum solar requirements.”

Additionally, 10 of the 12 top performing states have strong statewide interconnection policies, and most of the top performing states allow creative financing options.

Gov. Jack Markell joined in for a discussion of the report and talked about his goals for solar.

“We are working very aggressively toward a clean energy future and demonstrating what I said a moment ago, that we really can have a strong economy and healthy environment simultaneously,” Markell said. “We’re modernizing our energy sector, improving air quality, focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions that can lead to global warming, reducing energy costs, improving reliability and seizing economic development opportunities. And we believe all that, in fact, can go together.”

Since 2008, Markell said, the state has increased its solar production by 25-fold, going from just two megawatts to 50 megawatts today.

Delaware Deptartment of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Collin O’Mara also weighed in on what’s next for solar energy in the state.

“We still see additional opportunities to try to reach more folks in the low income community because this is a way that folks can reduce their energy bills a lot. Obviously, with the heat wave like we experienced last week, anything we can do to reduce energy costs for folks is a good thing,” O’Mara said. “We’d also like to see more progress around solar hot water as a way to reduce some of our heating needs.

He said the current challenge is keeping up with demand for the resource. 

The state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard plan calls for 25 percent of Delaware’s energy to come from solar by 2025.

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