Read the full report (pdf)
WASHINGTON, DC – The Center for American Progress unveiled a new report stressing the economic potential of solar energy. The report highlights states that have effectively developed their own solar markets.
Solar photovoltaic energy is an established technology that has proven its ability to improve our national security and boost the economy. Photovoltaics produce energy that is both domestic and emission-free, making it key to weaning the United States of our dependence on polluting fossil fuels and helping to curb the effects of global warming. Solar PV also bolsters our economic security by creating more new jobs than any other energy technology.
The federal government has shown support for solar energy in recent years with the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which provides tax credits for investors in solar power systems. The Securing Energy Independence Act of 2007 (HR.550/S.590) would extend the tax credits through the end of 2016, a necessary step for a rapid transition to solar energy.
Yet federal action is not enough. Energy policy is largely determined at the state level through state and local laws and utility regulation. States must therefore take the lead to ensure that incentives are properly structured to keeps costs declining while regulatory processes become more easily navigable by businesses and consumers. Solar photovoltaics must rival power from the utility grid in both cost and accessibility in order to make solar power appealing to consumers.
Four policies are central to ensuring the wide-scale deployment of solar energy:
- Financial incentives: Financial incentives for solar power, sustained over five to 10 years at a declining rate, ensure market stability and cost reductions, and will build a state-based industry by stimulating customer investment.
- Interconnection standards: Solar PV customers must be able to connect to the utility grid without undue delay and expense. If the process is lengthy or difficult, it will dissuade many consumers.
- Net metering: Net metering ensures that consumers are equipped with PV systems that meet their energy needs while crediting customers for all the energy they generate.
- Rate design: Utilities should charge consumers fairly for the electricity they consume and make the same rate choices available to solar customers that are available to other customers.
This report highlights model policies and case studies of four states that have effectively developed thriving solar markets. These models provide guidance to states looking to boost their economies by developing a strong solar industry and show that stronger energy independence through solar power is achievable for every state. These successes will provide essential lessons in shaping a bold national solar policy.
Read the full report (pdf)
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