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Solar Power

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Nationwide, the solar energy industry is booming. Solar installations have increased almost ten-fold since 2009, largely due to the falling cost of solar technologies. The average price for solar panels dropped by 60 percent in less than two years, and it is expected that the total cost of solar installations will continue to decline over the next decade.

Many states are taking advantage of this surging market. This growth is creating a robust job market, employing about 119,000 people in the solar industry nationwide.

The Commonwealth’€™s 2010 Energy Plan shows that Virginia has the potential to generate, conservatively, between 11,000 and 13,000 MW of energy from solar PV, or enough solar energy to power over one million homes. Other reports indicate that Virginia’s potential for rooftop solar PV is closer to 19,000 MW.

While our neighboring states are developing a robust solar market, Virginia is missing out.

State Solar Potential: Rooftop PV (MW) Installed Solar Capacity (MW) Estimated number of homes powered by solar
New Jersey 14,000 1,051 150,290
North Carolina 23,000 259 24,600
Pennsylvania 20,000 204 22,440
Maryland 13,000 120 11,800
Virginia 19,000 Less then 10 950

Virginia has similar or greater potential for solar energy than its neighboring states. Yet these states are surging ahead and reaping the many benefits of solar, including:

– Solar panels produce energy when we need it most, reducing energy demand at peak hours when power is the most expensive for utilities, which saves ratepayers money.

– While fossil fuel prices are subject to dramatic fluctuations and world events beyond our control, there is no risk that the cost of sunlight will increase.

– Solar energy doesn’t pollute our air and waterways or disrupt our climate.

– Rooftop solar installations generate energy where it is being consumed, which means that power is not lost as it moves through transmission lines and money is saved by delaying or reducing the need for costly transmission lines.

– Solar power has proven useful in supporting disaster recovery. With more frequent and severe weather events, solar power could serve as a critical asset in our efforts to adapt to a changing climate.

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