Colorado ranks eighth in per capita solar power generation

July 29, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News



COLORADOAN – U.S. capacity to generate solar energy has tripled since 2010 and increased tenfold since 2007, according to a new report from the nonprofit advocacy group Environment America.

The report said Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, New Jersey, New Mexico and California lead the country when it comes to the amount of electricity being generated from the sun’s energy. Colorado ranks eighth on the list, below Delaware and above Vermont. Although those are some of the country’s sunniest states, the report says it’s the political commitment that makes the most impact: Lawmakers in those states have passed solar-friendly laws and regulations.

“The sun shines on every state to varying degrees. But there’s plenty of the sun’s energy to tap everywhere,” study co-author Rob Sargent said. “And what this report shows is that it takes a commitment from the top.”

Despite the increases, America gets less than 1 percent of its electricity from solar power, Sargent said. But the rapid growth is heartening to solar supporters.

In 2011, 66 percent of the electricity generated in Colorado came from coal, 20 percent from natural gas and 14 percent from renewable energy resources. Colorado’s renewable energy standard requires investor-owned electric utilities to provide 30 percent of their generation from renewable energy resources by 2020.

The report said leading solar states have made it easier for people who install solar panels to offset their electric bills, have created tax incentives to install solar power and required utilities to increase their solar generation. New Jersey, for instance, has more than 1 gigawatt of solar capacity installed, which is more per capita than California, Colorado or New Mexico, the report said.

California has set a goal of getting 33 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2020 and has a separate effort to install nearly 2,000 megawatts worth of solar panels on rooftops by the end of 2016, said Edward Randolph of the California Public Utilities Commission.

“A big factor in California’s solar program success is that the state designed a program that is focused on creating a self-sustaining market,” Randolph said.

Environment America said the country could get 10 percent of its energy from the sun by 2030 if other states adopted more solar-friendly regulations.

“It’s a small fraction of our power consumption, but it’s growing by leaps and bounds,” Sargent said.

(Copyright © 2013 Fort Collins Coloradoan, All Rights Reserved)

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