Study: Michigan solar policies are lacking in multiple ways

Solar panels

Michigan really struggles with solar energy, says report

Michigan has been under fire recently for some of its policies regarding drinking water in parts of the state. As it turns out, the state has a ways to go to catch up to the curve when it comes to solar energy policies, too.

The Center for Biological Diversity, in its study titled Throwing Shade: 10 Sunny States Blocking Distributed Solar Development, called out the U.S. states that it determined are the absolute worst at both encouraging the use of solar power and utilizing solar energy as a clean energy source. Michigan made the list of states that need the most work.

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.

Michigan gets an “F”

Through its research, the Center for Biological Diversity found that some states have weak and/or nonexistent policies when it comes to key areas of solar energy development. Those states received failing grades — Michigan was one of them.

In the report, theCenter for Biological Diversity pulled no punches, noting that Michigan has the eight most potential for rooftop solar power of all U.S. states, but is ranked just 26th in installed solar capacity because of one reason: the state’s obvious bad policy.

Not only does Michigan lack community solar laws that frequently work to encourage residents to pursue rooftop solar projects, but the state’s net metering laws are some of the weakest in the country.

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.

The biggest barriers holding back Michigan net metering are the same barriers that hold back policies in so many other states: low system-size limits and aggregate capacity limits. Until net metering policies are updated to make them more beneficial to homeowners, the state will likely continue to trail the pack in solar energy and solar power in the U.S.

Source → Center for Biological Diversity