By: Nikolas Michael, Solar Fellow
One of the great advantages solar power has is that it is decentralized. This characteristic is one reason why solar is so competitive: there is no need to build giant power plants owned by huge utilities, your home can be a power plant. We see this all the time, people installing solar panels on their roofs and community-owned solar projects being just a couple of examples of how people are taking advantage of solar.
Solar has enormous growth potential because of how easy it is to get involved. New ways to access solar, like community energy, are being implemented around the country with great success. There is an enormous opportunity in the United States for solar to flourish, but antiquated policies in certain parts of the country are stunting its growth.
Take, for example, North Carolina: it has a fast growing solar sector, but North Carolina prohibits the sale of electricity by third parties. This does little but stifle growth and lower access to solar. Third party financing and leasing models are extremely successful in other states, and allow home and business owners with less access to capital to invest in green energy. North Carolina is not alone in this, 6 other states (Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Carolina and West Virginia) also prevent third party electricity sales. In Virginia there is a debate over the legality of third party financing, with a ruling anticipated in the next few weeks as part of a State Corporation Commission case (PUE-2015-00040).
To truly embrace solar as a crucial part of our energy mix we must have policies that expand access. Solar can provide cheap, clean energy to consumers. If we are serious about solar, we must let our laws reflect our desire. Once we do, we can all benefit from the immense power and potential of solar energy.