2019 trends making and braking rooftop solar in the South

Installing solar panels is great way to power your home with clean, renewable energy, but some utilities are making it harder for customers to go solar. (© Jackson Smith)
Solar is booming across the South as more homeowners turn to clean, affordable rooftop solar to meet their energy needs, and as state policy makers are also embracing local solar growth and the benefits that come with it.

“We are seeing solar energy make great strides forward in the sunny South,” says Lauren Bowen, lead attorney for SELC’s Solar Power Initiative. “However, there is so much more solar potential in our region. Regulatory and utility policies have an enormous impact on whether we’ll be able to reach that potential or not.”

SELC recently announced our 2019 Solar “Makers” and “Brakers” list which highlights key trends in policies and actions impacting the growth of rooftop solar across the South.

The 2019 Solar Makers list highlights three examples of state, utility, and community actions driving rooftop solar progress in the region. This year’s Solar Brakers list casts light on the utility policy trends that undermine, and in some cases, completely put the brakes on rooftop solar as a cost-effective, clean energy choice.

Southerners have some of the highest residential electric bills in the country, and going solar is one of the few options that customers have to reduce the amount of energy they buy from utilities and lower their bills. Yet, residents across the region interested in putting solar on their homes, schools, or businesses must first consider their utility’s rooftop solar policies before making the investment to determine if it’s a feasible option.

According to a recent report by the Solar Energy Industries Association, solar capacity is expected to more than double over the next 5 years. Currently, the Southeast has over nine gigawatts of solar installed, and over 14 gigawatts installed or committed.

SELC recently concluded its annual update to the Rates of Solar website, reflecting the most current utility solar policies in the South, and providing information about how utilities are treating rooftop solar customers as the industry booms. The website, launched last year, as created to share and summarize complicated and often difficult-to-find rooftop solar policies for over 400 utilities across the South.

“The updated Rates of Solar website ensures we have the most current solar policies for hundreds of utilities across SELC’s six-state region,” says Jill Kysor, SELC staff attorney. “Our website provides simple, straight-forward information for homeowners about how utilities across the Southeast are treating customers who install rooftop solar. During the process of collecting and updating these sometimes hard-to-get policies, we identified several regional trends impacting the growth of rooftop solar.”

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