Residential solar production increases in the Mountain West region

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The Mountain West may not have the top solar producing states, but residential solar has seen a significant increase in the region over the past year. according the United States Energy Information Administration.

EIA also reported that the western United States produces the most solar power, but that’s largely thanks to the national leader, California. This one state alone eclipses solar generation in all Intermountain West states combined, at over 13,000 MW.

However, Arizona is the top performing country in the Mountain West.

Its small-scale solar generation increased by 13% between July 2021 and July 2022 to reach more than 2,000 MW, or 5% of the country’s small-scale solar generation.

The largest increase during this period was recorded in Idaho, which increased by 52% to reach 108 MW.

And Wyoming produced the least in the region with only about 14 MW in July, but it also has the smallest population in the country. Even Wyoming has surpassed the Dakotas, where almost no solar power is adopted.

Add residential solar gains to the growth of large-scale solar farms, and the sector is booming.

Solar power “accounted for the largest share of new electricity generation on the US grid last year. And looking to the future, it should only grow,” said David Feldman, principal analyst at the National Renewable Energy Lab.

He notes that sunlight availability and state net metering policies also affect residential solar adoption, or lack thereof. Essentially, net metering refers to the billing and compensation of residents who generate renewable energy that can be fed back into the grid.

Feldmen noted that there is funding for solar power generation and energy grid infrastructure in the federal Inflation Reduction Act, but there may still be challenges connecting all the new solar energy to the grid.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in the Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations throughout the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the public broadcasting company.

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