Wisconsin among worst solar states in the U.S.

Solar panels

Report: Wisconsin is in the bottom fifth of the U.S. in solar energy

Recent research from the Center for Biological Diversity analyzed how solar energy policies compared and contrasted across different U.S. states, and Wisconsin found itself near the bottom of the rankings.

The study, titled Throwing Shade: 10 Sunny States Blocking Distributed Solar Development, took a comprehensive look at solar energy policies and practices in all states in the contiguous U.S. As it turns out, Wisconsin is on the outside looking in when it comes to solar energy, and the state has really struggled since 2013.

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.

Wisconsin gets an “F”

In order to complete the study, the Center for Biological Diversity had a formula to assign a single grade to each state based on different criteria that mostly centered on the state’s solar energy policies. Wisconsin received a failing grade.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, Wisconsin has made few moves to implement any new renewable energy goals since 2013, which has, in a sense, stalled the progression of solar energy in the state. One specific area that Wisconsin struggles in is the practice of net metering.

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 Center for Biological Diversity recommended a revamping of various state legislature components to help ease burdens for potential customers who find it financially challenging to install solar panels. Wisconsin’s current net metering program has a system size cap. Removing this cap, according to the report, could spur new rooftop solar development.

Additionally, the state currently requires solar customers to buy extra liability insurance, which is one of a number of extraneous factors that collectively keep rooftop solar from taking off in the state.

Source → Center for Biological Diversity