Connecticut Continues to Ramp Up New Solar Installations

Connecticut’s biggest solar gains came in commercial installations, but residential installations increased, as well.

WASHINGTON, DC - Showing strength in all market sectors, Connecticut ranked 16th in the nation in installed solar capacity last year, according to the recently-released U.S. Solar Market Insight 2014 Year in Review.

In 2014, Connecticut added 45 megawatts (MW) of solar electric capacity, bringing its total to 119 MW. That's enough clean, affordable energy to power nearly 20,000 homes. The report went on to point out that Connecticut's biggest solar gains came in commercial installations, but residential installations increased, as well. Of the new capacity added, 21 MW were commercial, 17 MW were residential and 7 MW were utility scale. Together, these installations represented a $121 million investment across Connecticut.

From an environmental perspective, solar also helped to offset nearly 100,000 metric tons of harmful carbon emissions last year in Connecticut - the equivalent of removing more than 20,000 cars off the state's roads and highways.

"To put the state's solar growth in some context, the 119 MW of solar PV installed today in Connecticut is nearly as much as the entire country had installed by 2004. And frankly, the state is just scratching the surface of its enormous potential," said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). "Looking forward, we expect 2016 to be the best year ever for new PV installations across the state, with more than 50 MW in new projects expected to come online."

Today, there are 135 solar companies at work throughout the value chain in Connecticut, employing more than 1,600 people. Notable solar projects in Connecticut include:

* Somers Solar Center was completed in 2013 by developer HelioSage Energy. This photovoltaic (PV) project has the capacity to generate 5 MW of electricity - enough to power more than 700 Connecticut homes.
* At 5 MW, East Lyme Solar Park is among the largest solar installations in Connecticut. Completed in 2014 by Greenskies Renewable Energy, this PV project also has enough electric capacity to power more than 700 homes.
* Many large retailers in Connecticut have also gone solar, including Walmart, Kohl's, Staples, Target and Walgreens.
* IKEA has installed one of the largest corporate photovoltaic systems in the state with 940 kilowatts (kW) of solar capacity at its location in New Haven.

In addition to a growing commercial sector, the Connecticut residential market also showed impressive 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 Connecticut economies, as well as for our environment."

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