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SEPA Utility Solar Snapshot Shows Solar Market is Healthy and Expanding to Emerging States

New state markets, led by Florida and Texas, demonstrated sizeable utility-supply solar growth even as some established states contracted

WASHINGTON, D.C. — With the release of the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA)’s new report, the 2019 Utility Solar Market Snapshot, the educational non-profit found the U.S. solar market is still growing and notably expanding to new emerging state markets – there were 7.3 GWs interconnected in 2018, marking a 20.1% increase in total capacity over 2017.

The release of the Snapshot report also marks the announcement of SEPA’s 2019 Top 10 Rankings, recognizing the utilities with the most overall solar capacity interconnected in the year 2018, measured by total megawatts (MW), and solar watts-per-customer account (W/C).

“Driven by the increasingly competitive economics and capabilities of solar, paired with rising consumer demand, the 2019 SEPA Utility Solar Market Snapshot highlights the industry’s decade-long pattern of growth and expansion to new markets,” said Mac Keller, co-lead author and Research Associate at SEPA. “The utilities in this year’s Top 10 solar rankings are among those spearheading the latest progress we’ve seen in the electric sector and paving the way to a clean, smart and resilient energy future.”

The solar snapshot shows that the national market remains strong and competitive—despite minor cost impacts from the solar panel and steel tariffs of 2018. In fact, the market saw a geographical expansion beyond the traditional powerhouse markets (e.g., California and North Carolina), with Florida, Washington, and Rhode Island seeing year-over-year growth rates of 311.9%, 150.2% and 344.1%, respectively.

Now in its 12th year, the Utility Solar Market Snapshot is the leading industry report based on interconnection data and market insights obtained directly from more than 500 utilities across the country, representing 74% of all customer accounts and 71% of all MWhs sold in 2018.

 

Key takeaways from the report include:

  • Utility-supply solar market experienced 15.1% growth nationally, driven by emerging state markets in Florida, Texas, Minnesota, South Carolina and Oregon.
  • 20 states and DC have community solar policies in place and utilities have indicated a strong preference for utility-managed programs over third party-managed programs.
  • State level solar policies related to solar compensation are evolving – most notably PURPA implementation rules and net metering successor tariffs.
  • 2018 was the largest year for corporate renewable procurements, with 75 companies procuring a total of 6.5 GW, compared to 50 companies and 4.5 GW added in 2016 and 2017 combined.

Each year, SEPA recognizes the Top 10 U.S. utilities that interconnected the most new solar capacity in their service territories.

On the Top 10 Utility Solar Rankings by Annual Megawatts list, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) maintained the No. 1 spot this year with 630 MW interconnected, while Florida Power & Light was second with 626.8 MW and Southern California Edison ranked third with 440.7 MW.

Reedy Creek Improvement District, the municipal district serving and powering Walt Disney World in Florida, took the top spot on the Top 10 Utility Solar Rankings by Annual Watts-Per-Customer list, with 35,936.4 W/C. Texas based Georgetown Utility Systems and Ohio based Village Electric Utility – Brewster ranked 2nd and 3rd respectively.

The 2019 Utility Solar Market Snapshot is the first of three Snapshot reports based on data from SEPA’s 2018 Utility Survey. Upcoming reports will include the 2019 Utility Energy Storage Market Snapshot and the 2019 Utility Demand Response Market Snapshot.

You can download the free Solar Market Snapshot here.

You can view the full 2019 Solar Top 10 Rankings here.

To receive alerts on the Storage and Demand Response Snapshots, email communications@sepapower.org

For media requests, please contact Jordan Nachbar, jnachbar@sepapower.org, or 202-559-2034

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