States Continue to Drive Renewable Energy Investment

States are continuing their role as major drivers of renewable energy development in the US, installing the most projects in a single year in 2011.

State clean energy funds – now in over 20 states – supported 32,734 projects in 2011, up 18% from 2010 and almost double that of 2009.

Funded by utility surcharges and other sources,  clean energy funds generate about $500 million a year.

"Despite the economic climate, state clean energy funds have continued to demonstrate innovation, support emerging technologies, and advance clean energy markets," says Mark Sinclair, Executive Director of the Clean Energy States Alliance. "The better news is that, after 13 years of data collection, we feel confident that these industry trends are here to stay."

Since 1998, states have supported almost 130,000 projects totalling 4.8 gigawatts of energy. Their $3.4 billion investment in renewable energy projects has leveraged an additional $12.5 billion in private investment.

Large wind accounted for the majority of projects from 2003-2009, but since then the focus has switched to distributed solar. California, mid-Atlantic states and selected states in the West have installed the most renewable energy.

The Clean Energy States Alliance tracks state investment in its National Clean Energy Database, which includes metrics for all renewables – large and small –  such as installed cost and capacity, across projects and technologies and over time. 

The Alliance recently recognized seven exemplary state clean energy programs:

  • University of California, San Diego Microgrid and Synchrophasor Research and Development Program – California Energy Commission;
  • Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority Connecticut Solar Lease Program;
  • Massachusetts Clean Energy Center Commonwealth Solar Hot Water Pilot Program;
  • New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission Residential Wood-Pellet Boiler Rebate Program;
  • Clean Energy Business Incubator Program and On-Site Wind Market Development Program –  New York State Energy and Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

Another great example of state-level innovation involves six states in New England – Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont – that are embracing regional procurement of renewable energy.

Here are the 10 most important state policies implemented this past year according to the Interstate Renewable Energy Council.

Read "The Rising Tide of State-Supported Renewable Energy Projects: Results from the CESA Database, 1998-2011′: 

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