When most people think of the Northeast they think of brisk college campuses, breathtaking fall foliage or chilled skiers gathered round a cozy fire. But in fact, rapid advancements in technology, the establishment of competitive energy markets, and innovative environmental policy have made the Northeast sizzling hot when it comes to clean energy usage. In fact, Northeast states like New Jersey, Massachusetts and New York consistently rank in the Top Ten Solar States.
So what’s behind the northeastern rush to renewables? Take a look at why solar power is thriving in these states:
Massachusetts and New York are two of the most promising solar markets in New England, due to their combination of incentives and lofty renewable energy targets. In Massachusetts, the state’s next solar subsidy program, SMART, will double the amount of solar in the Commonwealth at half the ratepayer cost compared to the existing program while ensuring the continued success of this important industry and energy resource, according to state energy resource department spokesman Kevin O’Shea. Under New York Governor Cuomo, solar energy in the Empire State has increased almost 800% from 2012 to 2017. In part, this is the result of NY-Sun, a $1 billion commitment by the state to stimulate the market for solar power over a 10-year period. Meanwhile in the Garden State, New Jersey’s aggressive net metering program gives homeowners full retail credit on their utility bill for each kilowatt hour of electricity produced in excess of their demand. (Learn more on net metering, here!) No wonder New Jersey, an early leader in solar power, is one of only three states to have more than 1 GW of installed solar capacity.
Factor in the federal solar tax credit that gives solar system owners an income tax cut of 30% off the total price of everything included (even if that means fixing your roof so you drill holes in it to mount panels) – and you can see why solar makes sense in the Northeast.
NORTHEAST HOMEBUYERS ARE DAZZLED BY SOLAR
Studies have shown that solar can have a positive impact on home value. In fact, The New York Times spoke to Long Island appraisers and developers who confirmed: Buyers are “certainly willing to pay more” for a house with the electric bills to prove the savings attached to its solar system.
Still, there are those who consider solar power a luxury item or a home feature that’s only popular in California neighborhoods. In reality, states like Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York – along with California — account for 65% of all solar installations to date in the U.S. And in these areas, the overwhelming majority of solar customers are considered “middle income” – that is, their household income is between $45,000 and $150,000 annually.
Further, in 42 of America’s 50 largest cities, financing a residential solar energy system actually costs less than purchasing electricity from a customer’s local utility. Plus, even in swanky little Connecticut, the cost of putting solar panels on an average household has fallen by 64% over the last 5 years! So there’s no need to dismiss solar as something only for the Northeast elite. Frugal New Englanders can take a dollars and cents approach to this practical energy source.
ADVANCEMENTS IN TECHNOLOGY THROW SHADE AT SOLAR NAYSAYERS
Solar has come a long way since the first solar cell was invited over 200 years ago. Efficiency, size and cost improved dramatically. In 2012, the average solar panel converted about 15% of available energy to electricity, and today, solar panels are pushing nearly 24% of converted electricity. So even in tree-lined East Coast neighborhoods, solar systems can typically produce enough power – despite the shade – to make them cost-effective. Advancement in solar technology has driven the costs of producing electricity with wind and solar technologies down, with further declines expected as this technology continues to improve. Last but certainly not least — aggressive energy storage bills, like the one on its way to the Governor in New York, promise to move the solar needle even further North.
THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT FOR SOLAR EMPLOYMENT
High-paying jobs without stringent education requirements? Yes, please! Anyone in the Northeast could benefit from the $71,030 annual salary of the average solar photovoltaic Installer in New York. Or, the 2,580 jobs that can be created in Connecticut with community solar, according to a recent report. Yes, Northeast states have already established a strong solar industry, employing almost 43,000 workers in 2015. Both Massachusetts and Vermont rank among the top five states in the country for solar jobs per capita. So when solar spikes in New England, employment is likely too as well. After all, clean energy jobs are on the rise as the solar power industry now employs twice as many workers as coal does.
GREEN ENERGY IS ON NEW ENGLAND’S AGENDA. Solar energy in particular will be one of the main sources of electricity to replace the growing number of coal and oil-fired plants that are scheduled to close in New England. Since 2010 the Northeast region has more than doubled its installed base of wind and solar capacity with continued growth expected in the near future. Solar in the Northeast is projected to reach 4,733 megawatts by 2026 – enough to power nearly 776,300 homes!
So move on over sunny Texas and Florida! At Crius Solar, we know the solar potential of the Northeast – offering service to residents of New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Jersey (California, too!)
Find out what solar can do for you in your state. Contact Crius Solar for a risk-free consultation, and begin to enjoy the benefits of the energy movement that has taken over New England.