Where is Florida on the Top 10 List?
While only 0.65% of the entire United States currently gets their electricity from solar power, there has been significant growth in certain states quickly adopting solar energy. According to US Department of Energy data, California remains the leader in solar energy deployment, but other states are beginning to see a significant uptick in rooftop and utility-scale solar deployment.
What do the top solar powered states have in common? First, they have all adopted a renewable energy standard or RPS. This standard is in the form of a legislative state goal to get a specific amount of its energy from clean sources by a particular year.
Here are the top 10 states using solar power to generate energy:
Where is the Sunshine State?
Notably absent from the top solar state list is Florida. Given its nomenclature as “The Sunshine State”, it is surprising that Floridians aren't harvesting enough solar energy to crack the top 10. As it turns out, the quantity of sun is not the problem- the large number of political barriers is.
Florida’s utility companies are focused on blocking the State’s solar growth- for obvious bottom-line reasons. During the 2016 presidential election they funneled more than $20 million into political action committees to support constitutional Amendment 1, which ultimately failed, but for the sole purpose of placing regulatory clouds in front of Florida's solar potential. Their goal, by continuing to stifle the expansion or solar, they can personally control the development of solar as well as natural gas and maximize the profit to their shareholders all while seeking, and getting, higher rates from customers. The continued reliance on natural gas and utility-owned solar projects ensures the need for more utility infrastructure development and rate hikes while energy sales continue to slump as homes and buildings are retrofitted to more energy efficiency appliances and lighting.
Fortunately, as the cost of installing rooftop solar panels continues to drop, many forecast the big energy fatcats will be unable to stop Floridians desire to install their own solar energy systems. In almost all metropolitan markets in Florida, rooftop solar energy is now cheaper than traditional fossil fuel energy. With nearly all monopoly utilities raising rates in 2016 it makes rooftop solar even more cost competitive.
In states such as Georgia, California, New York and dozens of others, utilities have begun to encourage homeowners and businesses to install their own solar power systems. Regulators have looked for ways to encourage their communities to develop solar power cooperatives, community solar power projects and similar approached.
Floridians should seek out solar today.
While the regulatory future of solar in Florida may seem uncertain, utility customers would be well-advised to educate themselves on the myriad of existing benefits that utilizing solar energy affords today, as well as the currently attractive net-metering programs and low installation costs.