Non-utility Photovoltaic Deployment: Evaluation of U.S. State-level Policy Drivers

  • Gilbert Michaud
  • Damian Pitt
Keywords: Non-utility Photovoltaic Deployment


This article examines whether policies to incentivize solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in the United States are achieving their objectives. We focus on non-utility solar PV, i.e., solar energy systems owned by homes, businesses, and other institutions besides electric utilities. Our study compares the impacts of these policy approaches to those of other non-policy factors such as per capita income, electricity costs, and the availability of solar energy resources. Using a hierarchical regression analysis with cross-sectional data from the years 2012-2013, we find that the most important drivers of non-utility PV deployment are retail electricity rates and available solar energy resources, followed by the presence of personal or corporate income tax credits and net metering policies. These findings indicate a need for stronger net metering policies, adoption of income tax credits over property or sales tax exemptions, and more aggressive renewable portfolio standards that create a more effective solar renewable energy credit market.


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Author Biographies

Gilbert Michaud

Dr. Gilbert Michaud is an adjunct assistant professor at the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University. His research examines policies to encourage renewable energy investment, as well as the evaluation of community solar models. Dr. Michaud has published academic articles in peer-reviewed journals, and technical reports on energy and economics issues for nonprofits and local and state government entities. Prior to his academic career, Dr. Michaud worked as the lead researcher for the energy and power segment of U.S. Business Executive Journal. He holds a Ph.D. in public policy and administration from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Damian Pitt

Dr. Damian Pitt is an associate professor at the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University. His research examines opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy conservation, renewable energy use, land use, and transportation policies. Dr. Pitt also sits on the board of directors for the Richmond Region Energy Alliance and the Virginia chapter of the American Planning Association. Prior to his academic career, he worked for Cogan Owens Greene in Portland, Oregon. He holds a Ph.D. in planning, governance and globalization from Virginia Polytechnic University.


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