The Top States for Solar Energy in 2021
For a long time, having your home powered by the sun was revered as a luxury reserved for the upper echelon. But in the last decade, prices have dropped and solar panel installations are on the rise. In fact, the price of solar PV panels has dropped by almost 70 percent since 2014, according to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Even more impressive, in 2008, there were just .34 gigawatts of solar power in the country. Now, that number has skyrocketed to 97.2 gigawatts!
Which States Have the Highest Solar Capacity?
Although solar power is used by homeowners in all 50 states, there are some that lead the pack. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the top states for cumulative solar electric capacity installed through quarter one of 2021:
- California (31,873 megawatts)
- Texas (9,311 megawatts)
- North Carolina (7,132 megawatts)
- Florida (7,074 megawatts)
- Arizona (5,247 megawatts)
- Nevada (3,904 megawatts)
- New Jersey (3,653 megawatts)
- Massachusetts (3,263 megawatts)
- Georgia (3,069 megawatts)
- New York (2,840 megawatts)
California is in the lead by leaps and bounds when it comes to solar power, with enough to power more than 8.5 million homes. More than 20 percent of the state uses solar power (compared to 3 percent of the nation). As an early adopter of the technology and jobs generated by the industry, it’s a way of life that seems to only be growing in the Golden State.
The Top States for Solar Installations in 2021
Another way to look at the rising popularity of solar power is which states are embracing it with installations. Texas, California and Florida are the top states for producing solar power, but also installations, according to SEIA. There are some other states that you may be surprised to hear are supporting the solar power industry. The top 10 states for solar installations in the first quarter of 2021:
- New York
Many of these states have accelerated their relationships with solar power. For example, in 2020, Indiana was ranked number 32 in the country for solar power installations. In the first quarter of 2021, it jumped to number 4! Michigan has a similar story, ranking 27 in 2020 and is now at number 6.
This does away with the notion that solar power is only popular in states that have bountiful sunlight. Solar panels really only require four hours of direct sunlight every day, and any excess energy is saved for cloudy days. For homeowners who live on the grid, they’ll never go without electricity and can even make money with net metering.
Solar Rebates and Other Financial Incentives
A big factor in supporting solar power growth are the rebates, grants, discounts and other incentives given to homeowners who are interested in installing panels and other solar technology in their homes. The Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy provides information on all the different incentives available in each state and even within counties and municipalities. The easier and more affordable it is for people to invest in solar, the more likely they are to do it.
On the federal level, the U.S. government offers the Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, which is currently a 26 percent deduction on your taxes when you install:
- Solar PV panels or cells
- Contractor labor costs for installation
- Permitting and inspection
- System equipment, like wiring and solar inverter installations
- Sales tax on eligible expenses
When the program was first introduced, the government offered a 30 percent deduction. As time passes, the rate will decrease — in 2023, it will go down to 22 percent. Anyone considering solar power may want to do it sooner rather than later to take advantage of this incentive.
Luckily, a skilled contractor should be in the know of the types of incentives available not only federally, but within your state. Some cities and counties even offer incentives to those who invest in solar power. For example, in the city of Rancho Mirage, Calif., homeowners get a $500 rebate from their permit fee.
Leasing Solar Panels
There is also the option to lease a solar panel system, which means major savings on the up-front costs of purchasing and installation. However, homeowners who lease are not eligible for rebates, discounts and other incentives that are offered since they don’t actually own the system. Instead, they pay a monthly leasing fee and can enjoy the benefits of solar power—including the lower energy bill! If the lessees move, or decide they no longer want to participate, they can simply end their lease.
If you are looking for additional methods of long-term savings for your home, be sure to explore Modernize’s 2021 Homeowner Guide to Savings.
We also recommend exploring all your financing and payment options for solar panels ahead of connecting with a contractor. When you are ready, Modernize’s network of solar professionals can help you learn more and get started on a solar panel installation.
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