Alabama solar policies need work, study says

Solar panels

Alabama ranks near the bottom in U.S. solar report

Alabama is known for long, hot summers and sunny skies, so it might be a bit surprising to see the state listed among the worst solar energy states in the nation.

Despite significant potential, Alabama lags behind most other states in the U.S., said the Center for Biological Diversity in its recent study titled Throwing Shade: 10 Sunny States Blocking Distributed Solar Development.

The ten worst solar states in the U.S.

In the study, the Center for Biological Diversity highlighted regions that are “blocking distributed solar potential through overtly lacking and destructive distributed solar policy,” and targeted 10 states in particular — Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), that group of ten states owns more than a third (35 percent) of the total rooftop solar energy potential in the contiguous U.S., but accounts for just 6 percent of the total installed distributed solar capacity as of March 2016. The top ten solar states in the U.S., on the other hand, account for 86 percent of the total solar capacity in the U.S. So there’s big gap to fill and there are a lot of opportunities to fill that gap.

Alabama gets an “F”

In order to rank the states for the report, the Center for Biological Diversity researched policies and regulations in each state that deal with solar energy. Those states that were to discovered to have weak or nonexistent policies received failing grades. Alabama was one of the states that received an “F.”

In some states, it can be tricky to pinpoint exactly where the policy goes wrong and/or why the state’s policies are working against growth. But in Alabama this is not the case — the reasons why Alabama lag behind in solar power are crystal clear: the state has no policies.

A complete lack of policies and laws shows the state’s lack of focus on renewable power, and this apathy is easily transferred to its residents. Alabama currently has no community solar laws, no renewable portfolio standard, and no net metering policy.

Net metering is system in which owners of residential (usually rooftop) solar installations are compensated by state utilities for unused electrical power generated by their solar arrays. Currently, at least 43 U.S. states have net metering in place in some capacity.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, “not only does Alabama lack all key distributed solar policies, it also lacks any clear avenues for public involvement in the policymaking process.”

Source → Center for Biological Diversity