Hawaii leads list of top 10 states — report

Source: Daniel Bush, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, September 4, 2015

Hawaii ranked first among U.S. states in solar power per capita last year and has helped drive a recent boom in solar development across the nation, a new report shows.

The Aloha State, Arizona and Nevada topped a list of the 10 states with the most installed solar capacity per resident in 2014, according to a study released today by the green group Environment America.

California, New Jersey, New Mexico, Vermont, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Colorado rounded out the list of solar states, which combined to produce 86 percent of the nation’s solar capacity last year. Overall, solar power tripled between 2012 and 2014, the report found.

All states on the list have renewable energy standards, and nine allow residents to earn credit for selling excess solar power back to the grid in a process known as net metering.

“Policy choices are a key driver of solar energy growth,” said Gideon Weissman, a policy analyst at the Frontier Group and co-author of the report. “State and local government policy leadership is closely aligned with success” in the industry, he added.

Though Hawaii ranked first in solar electricity capacity per capita in 2014, Nevada installed more solar power per resident last year than any other state. California remains the leading state in solar energy overall, with 9,977 megawatts of power online, the report said.

Lawmakers praised the industry’s recent gains while touting the growth of solar in their own backyards.

“Our state’s extraordinary position as a clean energy leader didn’t happen by accident,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said in a statement. “I’ve worked hard in Washington and Nevada to promote investments and public-private partnerships to make clean energy mainstream.”

The renewable energy industry has invested approximately $6 billion in Nevada and created more than 20,000 jobs, including 6,000 in the solar sector, Reid said.

Reid promoted solar energy development at his annual Clean Energy Summit in Nevada last month, where he lobbied for the state’s top power provider to extend a popular rooftop solar program (Greenwire, Aug. 25).

The report comes as renewable energy opponents draw battle lines over U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which would slash power-sector carbon emissions.

The final rule, which was rolled out last month, encourages states to increase their renewable energy development to help meet new carbon emission limits. Several states have moved to block the rule, while others have embraced the plan.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) said the state remains committed to its goal of supplying 100 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2045. “We are looking forward to continuing our leadership role in clean energy,” Ige said in a statement.