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Some Power Companies Are Keeping the Sunniest States Solar-Panel Free

Some Power Companies Are Keeping the Sunniest States Solar-Panel Free

This post was written by Alex Bauer and originally appeared on RYOT.

If you’re dreaming of a day when your household is self-sufficient, running off solar panels attached joyfully to your roof, then think again.

Some of the sunniest states in the United States have rules set up that make solar panels virtually impossible to have. For example, St. Petersburg, Fla., which holds a world record for 768 days straight of sunny weather, is one of the states where solar panels are extremely rare.

The laws surrounding solar panels vary from state to state, but opposition from utility companies nervous about the encroachment of solar firms means many aren’t in favor of turning to the green power source.

Unfortunately, money is the biggest issue holding us back from a greener nation.

Solar panels in California (Photo: sites.psu.edu)Solar panels in California (Photo: sites.psu.edu)

Areas where solar panels thrive are surprisingly less sunny places, like New England. The solar panel business models used in Massachusetts and New York are actually illegal in Florida, Virginia, South Carolina and other southern states.

In order to use solar panels, a homeowner typically signs a lease agreement with an installation company and pays the cost of the panels over time. They then sell any excess power the system generates. Tax breaks and government incentives make having solar panels incredibly affordable.

However, in several southern states, low electricity rates — thanks to extensive use of coal — have energy companies weary of letting solar firms share the business. They’ve discouraged homeowners from having solar panels, and in some instances have even enacted bans.

Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., installed solar panels, but Dominion Virginia Power, the local utility, threatened legal action. Dominion claimed that only they could sell electricity in the area, so the university and the solar firm it worked with were forced to change their lease arrangement and forfeit valuable tax credits.

Another instance was in South Carolina, when objections from a utility company forced around 80 contracts to be cancelled with a solar firm that was planning on supplying free panels to churches and school districts.

It seems bizarre that states as sunny as South Carolina and Florida — you know, “the sunshine state” — would be left green-free. A spokesman for SolarCity, a solar panel provider, described Florida as a “sleeping giant” in the solar industry.

There is lots of potential in this country, but it requires innovation and a willingness to change. Solar panels can seem like they come with a cost, but everyone wins with renewable energy.

The U.S. should take note from countries like Germany who are taking advantage of solar power, at one point garnering half of its electricity from the sun.

The future can be very green if we allow it to be.

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

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124 comments

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1:09PM PDT on Oct 29, 2014

They don't want us to be free.

9:04PM PDT on Aug 31, 2014

Woops, my mistake, the credit, blame was given to RYOT news and action by Alex Bauer, I missed it. Why didn't they just post the link?

8:59PM PDT on Aug 31, 2014

I don't know who copied who, but the article published in RYOT news and action by Alex Bauer 3 weeks ago, looks like plagiarism by someone, it's word for word and in the same order as the Care2 article.

If they had some kind of agreement for that, fine, I would assume they would give credit (blame) where credit (blame) is due. I was trying to see what this claimed lawsuit was about, haven't yet. See:
http://www.ryot.org/rules-keeping-sunniest-areas-us-solar-panel-free/782489

12:42PM PDT on Aug 30, 2014

Thank you

3:23PM PDT on Aug 26, 2014

The Big Energy Cartel cannot allow an energy source they can neither turn off nor hoard to control prices.
All around the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster are wells drilled and capped until the price of oil rises.
It is time to make fossil fuels OBSOLETE.

3:19PM PDT on Aug 26, 2014

With the state the planet is in it should be a punishable offence to hinder the use of green energy in any way whatsoever!

3:01PM PDT on Aug 26, 2014

Republicans and electric utilities will do anything to kill solar, and wind power. Money is the only thing republicans care about, and they will do anything to destroy clean renewable energy.

10:50AM PDT on Aug 24, 2014

Well Hello from the Sunshine State and yes FP&L does not want to encourage any solar or wind energy. They did just get another rate increase in case they may want to put some in but are under no obligation to do so. Oh and they have 20 people on the payroll who make more than $5 million/year but sadly had to get rid of 1,000 jobs last year.

Yes this is Floriduh!

6:42AM PDT on Aug 19, 2014

The important thing is to replace fossil fuel with renewable energy. If the local electric utility has to be the one to install and maintain the solar power system and sell the electricity to the homeowner for that to happen, then we will have to live with that.

6:27AM PDT on Aug 19, 2014

merci pour l'article

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