Showing strong growth in all market sectors, Vermont more than doubled its amount of installed solar capacity in 2014, according to the recently-released U.S. Solar Market Insight 2014 Year in Review. What’s more, Vermont was one of only four states nationwide to have 100 percent of its new electrical capacity come from solar energy.
In 2014, Vermont added 38 megawatts (MW) of solar electric capacity, bringing its total to 70 MW. That’s enough clean, affordable energy to power nearly 7,500 homes. The report went on to point out that Vermont’s biggest solar gains came in utility-scale installations, but commercial and residential installations showed strong increases, as well. Of the new capacity added, 27 MW were utility scale, 6 MW were residential and 4 MW were commercial. Together, these installations represented a $76 million investment across Vermont – a 63 percent increase over the year before.
“Gov. Peter Shumlin and Vermont’s legislative leaders should be applauded for their ongoing commitment to the state’s clean energy future,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “As evidenced by this report, their efforts are paying big dividends for the state’s economy and environment. During Gov. Shumlin’s administration, solar prices in Vermont have dropped by more than 60 percent, while his latest plan, an ambitious Energy Innovation Program, is likely to serve as a model for other states to follow. We congratulate Gov. Shumlin for laying out an agenda for a clean energy economy which focuses on jobs, affordability, renewable energy and quality of life for all Vermonters.”
Today, there are more than 70 solar companies at work throughout the value chain in Vermont, employing 1,000 people. Notable Vermont solar projects include:
- PSEG Essex Solar Energy Center was completed in 2014 by developer Juwi Solar Inc. This photovoltaic (PV) project has the capacity to generate 3.9 MW of electricity– enough to power more than 700 Vermont homes.
- At 3 MW, SunGen1 in Sharon is among the largest solar installations in Vermont. Completed by Talmage Solar Engineering, this PV project has enough electric capacity to power more than 500 homes.
In addition to a growing commercial sector, the Vermont residential market also showed gains last year, with installed system prices dropping by 8 percent – and down a total of 49 percent since 2010. Nationwide, the U.S. residential market added 1.2 GW of installed capacity in 2014, marking the first time that this growing sector surpassed 1 GW of clean, affordable solar. Residential also continues to be the fastest-growing market segment in the U.S., with 2014 marking three consecutive years of greater than 50 percent annual growth.
“Today, the U.S. solar industry employs 174,000 Americans nationwide – more than tech giants Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter combined – and pumps nearly $18 billion a year into our economy,” Resch added. “This remarkable growth is due, in large part, to smart and effective public policies, such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Net Energy Metering (NEM) and Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). By any measurement, these policies are paying huge dividends for both the U.S. and Vermont economies, as well as for our environment.”