North Carolina solar production ranked fourth in nation

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North Carolina is fourth in the nation in solar electricity installations, according to a new report from the Environment North Carolina Research & Policy Center.

The Center’s ‘Lighting the Way’ report found that the state’s cumulative solar electricity capacity totals 954 megawatts, which equarts to about 96 watts per person. That puts North Carolina behind only California (9,977 megawatts); Arizona (2,067 megawatts); and New Jersey (1,451 megawatts).


Nationally, solar photovoltaic facilities produce more than 18,000 megawatts of electricity.

The report attributes the rise of solar in many states to consumer demand and public policies that support the industry.

“Our analysis shows that policy choices are a key driver of solar energy growth,” says report co-author Gideon Weissman of Frontier Group. “State and local government policy leadership is closely aligned with success in growing solar energy.”

The report comes amid a debate in the N.C. General Assembly over whether to extend the 35 percent tax credit for renewable energy products in the state. Supporters of the tax credit hope to see an extension added to the budget being negotiated between lawmakers in the House and Senate.

Those who oppose the tax credits, including Triangle Capital Corporation CEO Garland Tucker and Civitas Institute President Francis De Luca, argue they cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars each year.

Lawmakers are also considering a bill to freeze a mandate for public utilities to draw a portion of their electricity from renewable resources at its current 6 percent level. If left unchanged, that percentage would increase to 12.5 percent by 2020.

North Carolina is currently home to more than 1,000 renewable energy businesses, and solar has brought an estimated $1.7 billion to the state’s economy, the report says.

States ranked by cumulative solar electricity capacity in megawatts, according to the report:

1.California: 9,977

2.Arizona: 2,067

3.New Jersey: 1,451

4.North Carolina: 954

5.Nevada: 789

6.Massachusetts: 750

7.Hawaii: 443

8.Colorado: 398

9.New York: 397

10.Texas: 330