As the Trump administration turns back the dial on climate progress at the federal level, states play an increasingly critical role in creating and stimulating clean-energy progress in the United States. In particular, state-level policies have an enormous influence on distributed solar, such as those on existing rooftops, parking lots and along roadways. If fully developed, distributed solar could provide most of the United States’ electricity with minimal negative social and environmental impacts, paving the way for important reductions on fossil fuels that are driving the climate crisis.
For this report, we highlight 10 states with high potential for distributed solar but poor policies to realize that potential.
All 10 states highlighted in this report — Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin — are barely skimming the surface of their technical potential for rooftop solar. Only 0.01 percent to 0.99 percent of their technical potential is being met, far below that of leading states such as California and Arizona, which are at least at 3.81 and 4.51 percent, respectively. In many of these states, fossil fuel companies and utilities are also waging campaigns to create policy barriers and restrictions, making it harder for people to go solar.
State policies that prevent the expansion of the distributed-solar market threaten the swift transition from fossil fuels to a fully renewable energy system. This system is needed to stave off the worst impacts of climate change and protect the health of communities and the planet. All 50 states should make improvements to their renewable energy policies in one way or another. But the 10 states identified as the top offenders when it comes to blocking distributed solar can have a significant impact on distributed-solar progress — and therefore on environmental health, energy democracy and the climate crisis — by following the recommendations outlined in this report.