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