Coastal States Demonstrate Leadership in Solar Power

November 29, 2006

There seems to be something about being near an ocean that spurs the growth of a solar power industry. On the East Coast, for instance, New Jersey appears to have the most vibrant solar power market, with more than 1,840 solar power installations, including a 454-kilowatt system at Monmouth University that was dedicated in mid-November. In fact, New Jersey more than doubled its solar power capacity in the first nine months of this year. The state credits the growth to its Solar Financing Model, which has cut the payback period for solar power installations to ten years or less. See the press release from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.

Aerial photo of a large expanse of solar panels stretching into the distance.

The Brockton Brightfield project covers most of its 3.7-acre site in Massachusetts.
Credit: Schott North America, Inc.

New Jersey's northern neighbors have also laid claim to significant solar power projects. The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), for instance, dedicated the 750th residential solar power system on Long Island in early October. LIPA attributes the growth in solar power to its Clean Energy Incentive rebates, as well as state and federal tax credits. Further north, Massachusetts is now home to the largest solar power system in New England. A 425-kilowatt system using Schott solar modules was dedicated in Brockton in late October, marking the successful conversion of an empty industrial "brownfield" into an energy-producing "brightfield." DOE worked on the project with the City of Brockton, which is also home to New England's first condominium project that is 100 percent solar. See the press releases from LIPA and Schott.

Of course, California still keeps the West Coast ahead of its East Coast competition. Among the state's recently completed solar power installations is a 1.14-megawatt system installed by PowerLight Corporation in a development in Rohnert Park (north of San Francisco) and a 910-kilowatt system installed by Chevron Energy Solutions on a U.S. Postal System facility in Oakland. Looking ahead, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or Metro, is planning to install a 418-kilowatt system on a maintenance building rooftop, and United Solar Ovonic has supplied 420 kilowatts of thin-film solar laminates to 3rd Rock Systems & Technologies, Inc., which will install them on two California schools. California offers generous incentives for solar power systems, and it doesn't hurt when the governor helps to launch a new solar Web site, as Governor Schwarzenegger did in mid-October. See the press releases from PowerLight, Chevron, L.A. Metro, United Solar Ovonic (PDF 38 KB), and Governor Schwarzenegger, as well as the new "Go Solar California" Web site. Download Adobe Reader.