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April 24, 2015 | Should I Be Involved in State Solar Policy?

It’s easy to get caught up in the way national energy policy affects the solar industry, but state policy is even more important. After all, what happens in the states can have a direct effect on solar expansion.

To keep the solar industry growing, there are two state policies that we believe will do just that:

-Net-metering: This mechanism (currently in place in 43 states and the District of Columbia) allows consumers to sell excess electricity back to the utility at a fixed rate, which offsets a portion of consumers’ bills. Where it has been implemented, net-metering has helped to expand solar rapidly and has even brought solar prices down to the point where they compete directly with fossil fuels.

-Renewables Portfolio Standards (RPS): 33 of 50 states have set specific goals (usually percentages) for the amount of electricity utilities must derive from renewable sources — wind, solar, and others — by certain dates.

In the current political climate, however, it’s going to take substantial efforts at the grassroots level to expand the number of states that have these two policies in place, as well as significant efforts to protect and to expand the ones that already exist.

So the question shouldn’t be should you be involved in state solar policy; the real question is how you can get involved.

For starters, find out what the current state of the solar industry is in your state. There are two great resources to help you do that:

The Solar Foundations State Solar Jobs Map: Each year, the Solar Foundation does a National Solar Jobs Census to determine how the 140,000+ solar jobs are distributed throughout the country.

Find out how many of your state’s citizens are employed in the solar industry, the top three segments where those people are employed, and a host of other important state solar information for you to use when talking to your neighbors and your legislators.

Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE): A collaboration among the U.S. Department of Energy, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, and the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center, DSIRE keeps an up-to-date listing of all state and federal incentives, sorted by state. You can easily find out what your state is doing to promote the solar industry, see where the gaps are, and get involved to fill them.

If you care about the spread of solar installations, finding ways to help on the state level is essential.


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