On the heels of the Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA’s) and GTM Research’s release of the first quarter results for new solar installations across the U.S. the Center for American Progress (CAP) released a new report that looks at how rooftop solar is growing in markets that are gaining steam. In “Rooftop Solar Adoption in Emerging Residential Markets” CAP explores the residential solar markets in Maryland, Massachusetts and New York. These are states with quickly growing residential solar markets that are starting to grow despite being much smaller markets than Arizona, California and New Jersey, which boast the largest shares of residents with solar panels.
The new analysis compliments one released by CAP last year, which found that in those leading markets the majority of solar adopters were in middle-class neighborhoods—those with median incomes between $40,000 and $90,000 per household. This new analysis finds that in two of the markets studied, Massachusetts and New York nearly 70 percent and more than 80 percent, respectively, of solar adopters are in the same income class.
“Maryland, however, has seen a significant but slower uptake of rooftop solar among middle-class households, as 45 percent of its residential solar installations have occurred within neighborhoods in the $40,000 to $90,000 median income range,” the report finds. The majority of solar installations in Maryland were in the highest income bracket, over $120,000 per household.
“Smart solar policies and programs have made solar technologies more accessible and have empowered households across the country to invest in a clean energy future, but more could be done to ensure that rooftop solar is reaching a greater share of middle- and low-income Americans,” said Mari Hernandez, research associate on energy policy at CAP.
Indeed, while Maryland also has less residents (roughly 5.9 million) than either Massachusetts ( roughly 6.6 million) or New York (roughly 19.6 million), its incentive programs are weaker than those in other two states. In Maryland residents can qualify for a $1,000 solar rebate, in Massachusetts residents can qualify for up to $4,250 for an array and in New York they can qualify for up to $25,000 in rebates, according to the study. While each of the states offers net-metering, Maryland offers a production-based state tax credit while the other two offer income-based state tax credits for going solar.
“Regulators and policymakers in these two states and Maryland, as well as across the country, should be thinking about ways to provide more access to solar and other distributed technologies, rather than scaling back good solar programs and policies,” the report said. “Effective residential solar policies expand access to middle- and low-income residents while also increasing the use of clean, distributed power that can reduce carbon emissions and add value to the grid,” it concluded.Tweet