Most and Least Friendly States for Solar Energy (2022 Report)

How Solar-friendly is Your State? 

Since the mid-2010s, the advancements in solar power systems have made them cheaper to produce, more efficient, less expensive, and more accessible than ever before. Since 2014, the price of solar panels has dropped more than 70%. Today, the solar market continues to grow, increasing by 30% since 2020. Furthermore, some states like Massachusetts offer valuable financial assistance to those wanting to go solar, while states like North Dakota outright dissuade solar use. 

To help homeowners make more sense of America’s complex solar landscape, we conducted a study on which states are the most solar-friendly. This article shares our findings and discusses some reasons for certain states’ rankings. 

Key Findings

Our research showed that the top five most solar-friendly states in the U.S. are: 

  1. California, has over 35,000 megawatts of solar installations powering over 8,000,000 homes
  2. Massachusetts, has nearly 4000 megawatts of solar installations powering over 500,000 homes.
  3. Arizona, has over 5,000 megawatts of solar installations powering 800,000 homes.
  4. Hawaii, has 1,500 megawatts of solar installations powering 350,000 homes
  5. Nevada, has nearly 5,000 megawatts of solar installations powering over 600,000 homes.

On the other hand, the least solar-friendly states are: 

  1. North Dakota, with a single megawatt of solar installations powering just over 100 homes
  2. South Dakota, with two megawatts of solar installations powering just over 200 homes
  3. Alaska, with 15 megawatts of solar installations powering nearly 1,500 homes
  4. West Virginia, with 20 megawatts of solar installations powering over 1,000 homes
  5. Nebraska, with 73 megawatts of solar installations powering almost 8,000 homes

Solar Friendliness by State

Solar friendliness is a complex topic, as many factors impact a state’s solar industry. For our study, we took the following elements into account:

  • Population
  • Solar installations (measured in megawatts) 
  • Estimated residents powered by solar 
  • Percentage of electricity generated by solar 
  • The amount of money invested in the state’s solar industry as of 2022 
  • Number of state incentives (if any) 

Below we’ll discuss some of our most important and notable findings. 

Most Solar-friendly States 

The top five most solar-friendly states came as little surprise, with California leading the pack by a wide margin. Currently, California’s population sits at 38,959,247, with 8,548,370 residences powered by solar electricity. The Golden State has invested over $73 billion in its solar industry, producing over 35,950 megawatts of solar power and generating over 23% of the state’s electricity. California has been a figurehead in the solar industry and green energy movement, with the numbers to back it up. 

Next in line comes Massachusetts, with 3,927 megawatts worth of installations, Arizona at 5,743, Hawaii at 1,477, and Nevada at 4,967. Each state has invested billions in solar energy, with Arizona being the second highest at $13 billion. Each state also has a large amount of its electricity provided by solar power, with Massachusetts having almost 20% of its total power come from solar panels. 

The last five of the top 10 most solar-friendly states are Texas at 13,947 megawatts, North Carolina at over 7,935, Florida at 9,012, Utah at 2,616, and New Jersey at 3,992. One thing that may appear odd at first glance is Texas’s placement at the number six spot. While Texas produces more overall megawatts than most other states in the top five, it comes up short when you average its total population to the number of residents powered by solar. Also, the total percentage of electricity provided by solar compared to the amount of fossil fuel it consumes is extremely low.

Interestingly, our data showed that sunshine is not an automatic qualifier for solar energy. States must actively invest in developing a solar industry and promote interest in solar with funding and incentives. Take Florida, for example. The Sunshine State, unsurprisingly, receives a massive amount of sunlight and would benefit from a robust solar system more than many other states. However, due to the state’s tenuous relationship with solar power and its relatively recent implementation of a solar program, its numbers are much lower than one would expect. 

Least Solar-friendly States

The biggest surprise we found when conducting our study was how poorly the lowest states ranked in each category. The two most unfriendly states for solar power are North and South Dakota. There are only three megawatts of solar power between them, with North Dakota only possessing one and South Dakota the other two. North Dakota’s single megawatt worth of panels contribute enough energy to power only 113 homes, and South Dakota’s two only power 213. Unsurprisingly, these states also contribute the least amount of funds toward solar power in the entire country, with North Dakota only spending $2 billion and South Dakota $4 billion

The next three entries on the list of least solar-friendly states go to Alaska with 15 megawatts worth of installations, West Virginia at 20, and Nebraska at 73. The jump from number two to three on this list is significant, as Alaska contributes $32 billion toward solar power, nearly 10 times more than South Dakota. Funding amounts become even more extreme when you compare the number one spot with number five, as Nebraska contributes $91 billion to its solar industry, over 45 times the amount of North Dakota. 

Rounding out the 10 least solar-friendly states are  Kansas at 97 megawatts worth of solar panels, Wyoming at 143, Oklahoma at 93, Kentucky at 74, and Louisiana at 208. Unfortunately, none of these states offer solar incentives. Worse yet, some states on this list, like Oklahoma, actually fine residents who utilize solar power. In 2014, Oklahoma signed HB 1456, which mandated that utility companies apply an additional tax to any household using solar or wind energy. 

The Data 

Below are the results of our study. You can sort the table by category or search for your state directly.

State

Rank

Population

Solar installation 2022 (megawatts)

Number of Residences Powered by Solar in 2022

Percent of State's Total Electricity

Money Invested in Solar

Tax Incentives 

California

1

38,959,247

35,950

8,548,370

23.6

$73,700,000,000

no

Massachusetts

2

6,962,372

3,927

545,258

18.5

$9,100,000,000

yes

Arizona

3

7,408,017

5,743

810,751

8

$13,900,000,000

yes

Hawaii

4

1,433,336

1,477

356,477

17

$3,400,000,000

yes

Nevada

5

3,201,212

4,967

672,070

15.3

$7,800,000,000

no

Texas

6

29,947,238

13,947

1,082,407

2.3

$11,200,000,000

no

North Carolina

7

10,678,831

7,935

859,707

7.5

$10,100,000,000

no

Florida

8

22,040,323

9,012

842,897

3.4

$9,600,000,000

no

Utah

9

3,426,431

2,616

442,889

8.3

$3,500,000,000

yes

New Jersey

10

9,242,109

3,992

586,709

6.6

$14,800,000,000

no

New York

11

19,415,392

3,586

474,848

2.7

$7,000,000,000

yes

Vermont

12

647,378

401

69,026

14.5

$729,000,000

no

New Mexico

13

2,113,550

1,289

287,628

6.1

$2,300,000,000

yes

South Carolina

14

5,259,222

1,936

222,247

2.4

$2,300,000,000

yes

Georgia

15

10,852,484

4,299

359,160

3.5

$3,700,000,000

no

Idaho

16

1,981,332

608

79,587

3.5

$817,000,000

yes

Colorado

17

5,855,078

2,236

340,720

4.1

$4,300,000,000

no

Maryland

18

6,157,731

1,459

153,463

4.3

$3,900,000,000

no

Virginia

19

8,662,151

3,790

280,993

2

$2,800,000,000

no

Rhode Island

20

1,094,843

576

73,698

6.6

$644,000,000

no

Minnesota

21

5,702,253

1,700

215,771

3.4

$2,400,000,000

no

Iowa

22

3,196,911

510

54,792

0.5

$568,000,000

yes

Montana

23

1,125,473

125

16,699

0.3

$160,000,000

yes

Connecticut

24

3,609,924

1,131

130,963

2.4

$2,400,000,000

no

Oregon

25

4,259,743

1,293

144,197

2.3

$1,800,000,000

no

Delaware

26

1,012,615

171

18,101

3.9

$504,000,000

no

Pennsylvania

27

12,916,089

936

96,859

0.4

$2,900,000,000

no

Illinois

28

12,518,144

1,465

89,781

0.4

$1,400,000,000

no

Indiana

29

6,831,167

1,366

111,763

0.7

$1,200,000,000

no

Ohio

30

11,767,059

890

63,137

0.4

$1,300,000,000

no

Michigan

31

10,032,720

927

83,045

0.4

$714,000,000

no

Wisconsin

32

5,903,573

855

71,572

0.5

$644,000,000

no

Tennessee

33

7,059,618

608

35,968

0.6

$877,000,000

no

Maine

34

1,381,441

486

44,523

1.4

$349,000,000

no

Missouri

35

6,180,523

358

33,187

0.7

$774,000,000

no

Arkansas

36

3,042,231

579

43,550

0.8

$486,000,000

no

Washington

37

7,765,004

314

25,938

0.3

$707,000,000

no

Alabama

38

5,056,005

578

30,531

0.3

$341,000,000

no

Mississippi

39

2,940,820

320

34,294

0.7

$354,000,000

no

New Hampshire

40

1,405,243

175

21,763

1

$351,000,000

no

Louisiana

41

4,576,882

208

18,248

0.4

$465,000,000

no

Kentucky

42

4,519,315

74

6,241

0.2

$116,000,000

no

Oklahoma

43

4,018,931

93

9,557

0.1

$131,000,000

no

Wyoming

44

581,813

143

22,382

0.4

$153,000,000

no

Kansas

45

2,928,419

97

12,559

0.2

$134,000,000

no

Nebraska

46

1,966,441

73

7,931

0.2

$91,000,000

no

West Virginia

47

1,773,866

20

1,134

0.03

$33,000,000

no

Alaska

48

731,721

15

1,496

0.1

$32,000,000

no

South Dakota

49

905,404

2

213

0.02

$4,000,000

no

North Dakota

50

770,221

1

113

0

$2,000,000

no

Final Thoughts

The states at the top of this list possess robust solar programs while encouraging their residents to invest in green energy. The most prosperous are also those situated in regions with large amounts of sunlight, making solar energy more efficient for residents. Overall, the future of solar energy looks bright, as the popularity of this renewable energy is only increasing. 

As solar energy becomes more efficient and less costly, it seems likely that even fossil fuel-reliant states will begin to adopt solar power. For example, states like Florida, which resisted solar power for years, eventually turned over a new leaf, embracing this technology in the late 2010s. With this in mind, it’s hard not to be optimistic about the future of solar energy in the United States. 

FAQ

What Areas of the U.S. Receive the Most Sunlight?

The Southwestern portion of the United States receives the most sun on average, specifically in states like Arizona, California, Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado. While in the Southeast, Florida also receives a lot of sunlight. 

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost? 

A full solar power system can cost anywhere from $5,000 to over $40,000. Most homes can be fully powered with a solar power system costing around $16,000. 

How Many Solar Panels Does it Take to Power a Home? 

Depending on your home size and power requirements, you’ll typically need between 20 to 24 solar panels in a system to keep your home powered. Factors like area, weather, season, and appliance usage can affect this number. 

Are Solar Panels Affordable? 

For most households to afford solar panels, they’ll need to take advantage of the Federal Solar Tax Credit Program alongside local incentives like state tax credits, rebates, sales tax reductions, property tax deferments, and net metering. State incentives vary significantly across the country, and homeowners should research these programs before investing in solar. 

Methodology

To find the most and least solar-friendly states, we analyzed solar data from SEIA and Choose Energy among other sources listed below. We analyzed data for 50 states in 2022. We used factors such as population, installation quantity, investment in solar programs, percentage of energy covered by solar, the number of residences powered by solar, and tax incentives in each state to rank the states with the most solar-friendly foundations. 

Sources 

 

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