As solar energy development continues to expand in the Southeast, with projections for future growth higher than last year’s forecast, the growth patterns remain varied depending on specific location and policies taking shape from state to state. The “Solar in the Southeast 2018 Annual Report” from Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) was released today, highlighting solar data and trends throughout the region, including Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Using the metric “watts per customer,” which looks at the amount of installed solar relative to the total number of customers served, SACE offers a unique analysis, with detailed information at the regional, state, and utility level. The watts per customer metric provides an unbiased standard by which utilities and states can be compared and contrasted.
- The Southeast exceeded 8,000 megawatts of solar capacity in 2018. SACE has increased its forecast to 17,000 MW by 2021 and nearing 20,000 MW for 2022.
- Corporate leadership is playing a big role in driving new solar capacity, with major project announcements from corporations including Facebook, Google, Target, Walmart and Johnson & Johnson.
- Florida is emerging as a regional leader, now forecast to surpass North Carolina in solar capacity by 2022.
- Tennessee and Alabama continue to lag behind other states in the Southeast with less than half the average forecast solar ratio, even with several new solar project announcements, largely driven by corporate solar demand.
- SunRisers — There are some new entrants on this list of solar leaders — Walton EMC, FPL and Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) join four returning “SunRisers” demonstrating leading levels of planned solar growth over the next four years.
- SunBlockers — There are also some repeat offenders — Santee Cooper, Seminole Electric Cooperative and TVA remain on the list of utilities whose forecast solar ratio for 2022 will remain below the regional average from 2018.
“This analysis in our second regional solar report shines a light on the utilities and states that excel in smart solar growth and demonstrates the enormous potential that remains in the Southeast for increased solar development,” said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “Using the unbiased watts per customer metric, we are also able to see which states and utilities are continuing to fall behind and need a serious course correction to avoid denying customers the economic and environmental benefits of clean solar power. We hope that the facts presented in this report will continue to serve as a helpful tool as utilities and regulators throughout the region advance in their renewable energy planning.”