Connecticut among top states in small-scale solar

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Connecticut and nine other states account for 84 percent of the nation’s small-scale solar energy production, according to estimates added to the most recent report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Data on solar capacity was added to the agency’s “Electric Power Monthly” report. It was previously available only in the Annual Energy Outlook.

The small-scale solar electric capacity, which includes rooftop panels appearing on more and more homes across Connecticut, is referred to as “distributed” solar photovoltaic (PV) in the report’s tables.

The EIA reports that distributed solar photovoltaic makes up about 33% of U.S. solar capacity, including both photovoltaic (electricity) and thermal (heat) energy.

California leads the nation in renewable energy, and that’s no different when it comes to distributed solar. The state’s 3,057 megawatts account for 44 percent of the nation’s distributed solar capacity. Connecticut’s 129 megawatts puts it 10th on the list of states by gross generation.

California is a much larger state than Connecticut, with a population more than 10 times as large, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau estimate, so Trend CT examined distributed solar capacity per capita.

Even adjusting for population, Connecticut remained at No. 10 on the list, while other states shuffled around. California’s leadership in distributed photovoltaics becomes less astronomical after adjusting for population.

The EIA attributes the top states’ leadership in distributed photovoltaics to factors including incentives and relatively high electricity rates, both of which Connecticut has. Hawaii, which had the highest electricity rates in the nation, at 29.87 cents per kilowatt hour in August, also has the highest per-capita distributed solar capacity. Connecticut’s 19.2 cents per kilowatt hour was the third highest electric rate.

Since September 2014 Connecticut has increased its distributed solar capacity by 73 percent, the sixth-largest increase in the nation over the same time period. That’s more than double the nationwide increase of 34 percent.

Full table

Below are the data used for this story in a searchable, sortable table. It’s a subset of table 6.2B in the EIA monthly report, plus U.S. Census Bureau data from the 2014 five-year Annual Community Survey.

What do you think?

  • Joel Gordes

    Very interesting but consider that Massachusetts has 4 times as much solar with only about 1.8 times as many people. We can do much better an I hope the passage of HB 6838 this past year can help as it allows for up to 300 MW of new solar.