Northeastern installers put up 902 MW of distributed solar

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Solar installation crews in the Northeast put up 902 MW of small-scale (under 1 MW) solar PV systems in the twelve months to November 2018. 

Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey together added nearly 700 MW; Massachusetts also leads the solar-per-capita leaderboard. Vermont’s second-place per-capita standing is now at risk from a slowing pace of distributed installations, as New Jersey advanced in third place, reflecting its goal of 50% renewables by 2030; Connecticut ranks fourth.

If Northeastern installers maintained a 900 MW distributed solar pace in 2019, they would add 23% of the 3.9 GW of distributed generation projected to come online nationwide—according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA)—punching above the region’s 17% weight in the U.S. population. 

Here are the small-scale installation data for nine Northeastern states, as reported in EIA’s Form EIA-861M reports:

Actual distributed totals may be higher, because solar installations connected to the distribution grid that are larger than 1 MW are not counted in the EIA data above.

 

Policy goals

Policy experts in the region offered their goals for advancing distributed solar in the coming year:

  • New York: “We are thrilled by Governor Cuomo’s commitment to 6 GW of distributed solar by 2025,” said Sean Garren with Vote Solar.  “We’re working with a broad coalition of clean energy and environmental advocates to ratify that commitment into law.”  (Here’s our story on Governor Cuomo’s call for a “globally unprecedented ramp-up of renewable energy.”)
  • Maine: “Our primary focus will be on passing a comprehensive piece of legislation, such as the forthcoming bill sponsored by Republican Senate Minority Leader, Dana Dow, to [make] it easier for residents, businesses, and towns to build new solar,” said Dylan Voorhees with the Natural Resource Council of Maine.  He said the organization is hopeful for solar progress in Maine, given Governor Janet Mills’s pro-renewables stance.
  • Massachusetts: The national solar group SEIA is “focused on ensuring the Massachusetts SMART program rolls out smoothly and any implementation issues during the regulatory review are resolved,” said David Gahl with the organization.  Sean Garren with Vote Solar said Massachusetts must invest “in a modern, two-way electric grid,” raising caps on net metering, and serving low-income and environmental justice communities with clean energy.  Meanwhile the solar group SEBANE “tracks key legislation and regulatory policy as it is proposed, and advocates around issues such as incentive programs, interconnection challenges and net metering,” said Mark Sylvia, the organization’s president.
  • New Jersey: “With New Jersey’s passage of the Clean Energy Act in 2018, Vote Solar is now advocating for strong financial incentives to increase solar access in low-income and disadvantaged communities,” said Pari Kasotia with the organization.

 

Snapshot stories

Here are “snapshot stories” provided by solar installation firms, presenting projects from the past year:

This panoramic view shows a 112 kW system across two sections of roof at Holland Middle School in Holland, Pennsylvania. Installed by Exact Solar.

Image: Exact Solar

 

This 12 kW system covers electricity usage at a Waterford, Connecticut residence, by net energy metering. Installed by Son Energy Systems.

Image: Image: Ron Tooker, Son Energy Systems

 

A 76 kW bi-facial array shades the green roof of a 25-unit passive house apartment building in Philadelphia. Designed by Celentano Energy Services, installed by G.R.A.S.S.

Image: Celentano Energy Services

 

This 320 kW solar array powers a manufacturing plant in Warminster, Pennsylvania, with battery back-up for critical plant functions and reliability. Installed by Solar States, based in Philadelphia.

Image: Adam Stein, Solar States