The solar wave that washed the nation dramatically in recent years continues at full speed. Many US states realize the huge impact of helping their residence go solar.
There are great incentives for people around the U.S. to utilize residential solar energy, such as reducing their energy bill each month and helping the environment, which are key factors in the solar movement. Some states provide more benefit than others and set ambitious goals to use more renewable energy, reduce their dependency in polluted oil, and create more solar jobs that boost their economy.
The best states to go solar in means that these states legislators have put together great green policies, and they have a high RPS (renewable energy portfolio) goal, which mean that they are serious in their intention to use more renewable energy in their respective states. These are clear indications of their intention to enable consumers to make the switch to solar. With solar incentives and attractive rebates and tax breaks, it makes sense for homeowners to hire solar panel installer for their roofs.
One of the best states to go solar in is, without a doubt, California, which leads the way with amazing RPS laws, meaning lawmakers in California are determined to help Californians go solar, while also creating tens of thousands of jobs. With great incentives and tax breaks and many sunny days, it makes a lot of sense to go green, and go Solar Power in California.
Here are the top 20 US States, in alphabetical order, with a short preview of their solar standings as of 2015. You can also see the next best 20 states to go solar here.
Also, you can check out our page about the Top Solar Cities, to see which city is the best when it comes to adopting solar energy.
There are few clouds in the desert and plenty of opportunity to soak up solar energy rays, which the Arizona legislature is beginning to take advantage of. In fact, the Environment Arizona Research Policy Center labeled the state as having the highest solar capacity per capita in the nation. That being said, the RPS goal is moderate, at only 15% renewable energy sources by 2025. They also have relatively low electricity prices already, being lower than the national average. The rebates vary by utility company, but most are around $100 per kW, and the state provides 25% of the cost of the system in tax credits, up to $1,000. Systems are also exempt 100% from sales and property taxes. Overall, Arizona is a great place to take advantage of solar energy, with only seven years as the average time for a system to pay for itself.
California, a huge state full of national parks and beautiful intact nature, is taking great pains to encourage residents to utilize all that sunshine that they get so much of to protect its natural land. They have an incredibly high goal for RPS at 33% renewable energy output by 2022. They also have one of the highest rates of electricity in the nation, well above the national average, prompting residents to turn to solar. The solar power rebates vary by utility company, with most falling in the $700 to $1,000 range. Though they do not offer tax credits, they provide a 1000% property tax exemption, making California's average time for a system to pay for itself ten years.
Colorado is another state where the legislature is doing whatever it can to encourage the use of solar power and utilization of all that sunshine. Colorado was the first state to implement a statewide renewable energy portfolio standard and has an incredibly high one at that at a 40% goal by 2020. They have low electricity cost but offer impressive rebates that vary by utility company, some being as high as $15,000. While there are no tax credits, they do offer 100% tax exemptions on installations and properties. Overall, Colorado is a great state to go solar in, with an average time for a system to pay for itself being eight years.
Connecticut has an abundance of natural and beautiful land to protect and, unlike Alabama, state legislatures have made an effort to make that possible by committing to encouraging the use to solar power and renewable energy. They have a high RPS policy. In fact, it is one of the most aggressive policies in the US, requiring utility companies to derive 27% of their power from renewable energy sources. They have incredibly high electricity prices as well, and offer solar power rebates up to $6,750. While there are no tax credits, Connecticut does offer compete 100% tax exemptions for the solar installation and property tax. All in all, it takes the average resident to pay off an installation in eight years.
Full of natural and cultural heritage, Delaware is a strong state to go solar in. State legislatures have implemented an ambitious RPS plan with a goal of deriving 25% of energy from renewable energy sources by 2027. They also have a cost of electricity that is higher than the national average, which further encourages residents to utilize solar power. Rebate incentives vary, with a maximum rebate of $15,000. However, there are no tax credits or tax exemptions implemented so far in the state. Still, Delaware ranks in one of the top solar states with the average time for a solar system installation to pay for itself as nine years.
The beautiful and sunny Hawaii is an ideal location to benefit from solar energy usage. However, the lawmakers in the state could be doing quite a bit more than they are to utilize all that beautiful weather and protect the natural settings that sound them. They have a leading high cost of electricity, so despite the other incentives they are lacking in, implementers of solar power will already save an incredible amount of money. They also have a great RPS goal of 40% renewable energy sources by 2030 but do not offer any rebates. Tax credits are suitable, with 35% or $5,000 for a system installation, but only those who live in Honolulu benefit from property tax exemptions. However, due to all the money residents will save on their energy bills, this state has one of the lowest periods of time for a system to pay for itself at an incredible four years!
Maryland is another state with a lot of natural environment to protect and maintain, and their legislature has taken efforts to make that happen. In fact, Maryland was one of the first states to implement incentives for using renewable energy. They have established an impressive RPS plan, with the goal for energy companies being 20% energy derived from renewable sources by 2022. The cost of electricity in the state is comparable to the national average and they offer a generous rebate of $1,000 for solar power systems. They have small tax credit offers and also 100% sales and property tax exemptions. We definitely recommend solar power installations in Maryland with the average time for the system to pay for itself resting at ten years.
Massachusetts is a top contender for one of the best states to go solar in. They have recently begun updating their statewide policies to make it easier for homeowners and residents to utilize solar power. They have a great solar incentive program, exemptions, and tax credits that make it one of the easiest states to adopt solar energy. Their RPS goal is 15%, they have high cost of electricity, solar power rebates up to $4,250, adequate net metering policies, and high tax exemptions and credits. These factors cause Massachusetts to have one of the shortest payback periods, averaging at four years!
Even though it's cold much of the year, Minnesota still gets plenty of sunlight, which the state has made strong efforts to utilize. They have implemented utility-backed solar energy rebates, full sales and property tax exemptions, and performance payments. They also have an incredibly high RPS, with a goal of having 31.5% of energy derived from renewable resources by 2020 for its largest electric company, Xcel. The state provides generous rebates that vary depending on utility company, with most around $1,000 to $2,000. These factors combined make Minnesota's average time for each solar system installation to pay for itself be about thirteen years.
Nevada has a great variety of terrain and combination of rural land and booming cities. While most of their implemented initiatives are geared toward large businesses and companies with industrial size installations, updates to policies are slowly making it more beneficial for individual residents to implement solar power in their lives. They have an aggressive RPS goal of 25% renewable energy by 2025 and offer a generous rebate of $400 per kW up to a 25kW system installation. However, there are no tax credits and the property tax exemptions only apply to commercial and industrial solar installations. In the end, Nevada is a competitive state for solar power, with only nine years for the average system to pay for itself.
New Hampshire has a descent RPS goal of 24.8% renewable energy sources by 2025. They also have a high electricity cost, well above the national average and a very generous rebate program that offers $1,250 per kW up to $3,750. There are, however, no tax credits, and property tax exemptions are handled on a local level by region. Though policies could be more aggressive, New Hampshire is still a good state to go solar in, with installations paying for themselves on an average of ten years.
New Jersey has one of the top solar policy incentive programs in the US. They have plenty of sunshine and state legislatures have designed programs to encourage its use. Their RPS goal is sufficiently adequate and they have implemented generous net metering laws. Their cost of electricity for the state is above the national average, causing even greater incentive for residents to invest in solar power. They do not have solar power rebates or tax credits, but the property and sales tax exemptions are incredibly high. The time for a complete solar panel installation to pay for itself is only eight years in New Jersey.
New Mexico has mountains, lakes, forests, and deserts that all benefit from the states effort to enact solar and renewable energy programs. They have a lofty RPS goal of 30% renewable energy by 2020, with investor owned utilities expected to derive 20% of electricity from renewable sources and rural electric cooperatives expected to derive 10% of electricity from renewable sources. New Mexico also has impressive tax credits, offering 10% up to $9,000 for solar installations. They also offer sales and property tax exemptions, making the average time for a complete solar panel installation to pay for itself be ten years.
New York is one of the leading states in solar power initiatives. The state legislature has made great efforts to increase the state's solar energy and promote its use through numerous incentives. For one, the New York Public Service Commission have set a hight RPS goal, meaning utility companies have to derive at least 30% of their energy from renewable sources. This causes them to provide high incentives to homeowners to sell them solar energy. In addition, NY's current energy prices for electricity are well above the national average, making solar energy even more enticing. Combine these factors with hight rebates, tax credits, and beneficial net metering laws, and you are looking at paying back a full system installation in only eight years.
Though it is not always known for its sunny skies, Oregon gets adequate sunshine year round to support solar power systems. The state legislature recognizes the importance of renewable energy and have implemented progressive incentive plans to encourage solar power use. Its RPS goal is lofty at requiring utility companies to source 25% of their electricity from renewable energy sources. While the cost of electricity is relatively low, they make up for that by offering an astounding rebate of up to $9,500. They also provide hefty tax credits and exemptions, making the average time for a system to pay for itself be nine years.
Pennsylvania started out with a great solar power program, but recently funds have began running low for the state rebate program and policies need updates. All Pennsylvania needs is some tweaking to its current laws to bring solar policy up to speed. RPS is currently at a 18.02% goal by 2021, but there are currently no rebates or tax credits offered. They also have a close to average cost of electricity. There is also no sales or property tax exemptions provided, leaving the average time for a solar system to pay for itself at twelve years.
Texas is far behind in renewable energy policies in its legislature. They have a miniature RPS goal at only 3% by 2015, which they exceeded but haven't yet updated. Rebates vary by utility company, but since utility companies have such a low RPS to meet, they are beginning to let these offers go. They also do not offer tax credits or sales tax exemptions, but do provide 100% property tax exemptions. However, it takes twelve years for a solar energy system to pay for itself in Texas do to its outdated policies. There is a lot more the state legislature could do to encourage solar energy use.
Vermont, though slightly behind states with strong solar power initiatives like New York, is beginning to take steps to implement solar incentives. A progressive state, their discussions about solar and renewable energy are beginning to be firmed into policy. They have a voluntary RPS policy with a goal of 20% renewably derived energy by 2017. However, being voluntary, it does not hold companies accountable for this goal yet. The cost of electricity in Vermont is well above the national average, which encourages solar energy usage, and they offer up to a $250 rebate on solar power. They do not offer tax credits, but they do give 100% system and property tax exemptions, which makes the average time for solar power to pay for itself being ten years.
Washington is definitely not known for its sun, but surprisingly the region gets plenty of adequate sunlight to power its solar energy systems, especially in the summer months. The RPS goal for the state is 15% renewable energy production by 2020, though their electricity cost is well below the national average. There are no solar power rebates and since the state already doesn't have a state tax, there is no need for tax credits. However, they do not offer property tax exemptions on solar power systems. In the end, it takes about six years for solar power systems to pay for themselves in Washington which is remarkable.
Washington D.C. operates as it's own state with it's own laws regarding solar power usage. D.C.'s RPS goal is respectable at 20% renewable energy sources by 2023, although the state's electricity rates are low, slightly lower than the national average. They also have an up front rebate for solar panel installations of $500 flat, offered on a yearly basis for the first residents to ask for it until $2 million has been paid. There are no tax credits offered but D.C. gives a 100% property tax exemption when residents install a solar power system. Incredibly, D.C. ranks as one of the shortest periods of time for systems to pay for itself with an average time of five years!