How States are Shaping Solar’s Future

By Sara Baldwin Auck
Excerpted from Solar Industry Magazine

When I started my clean energy career, the 109th U.S. Congress was on the verge of passing the inaugural federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT 2005). The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) had just launched the Million Solar Roofs Initiative, and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) was developing the California Solar Initiative under an executive order.

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) was just starting to draft the country’s first model interconnection standards for distributed renewable energy, and the concept of community shared solar was not yet conceived. Most notably, the majority of states lacked meaningful solar policies and rules capable of supporting robust markets.

Today, it is states and local governments that are defining the future of the solar sector. Front and center in state policy and regulatory discussions, solar is making headlines and drawing crowds. It’s not surprising, considering solar represented 32% of all new electric generating capacity in the U.S. in 2014 – second only to natural gas – and considering 20 states are now home to more than 100 MW of installed solar PV capacity, according to the 2015 Q1 U.S. Market Insight Report published by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

With the forthcoming reduction of the ITC from 30% to 10% in 2017, states are now holding the keys to unlock solar’s long-term market growth. 

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