The “Dazzling Dozen” is not just a clever name for the twelve states that are leading the way in solar photovoltaic installations; they are an example to be followed in the move from fossil fuels towards a renewable energy utility of the future. On July 23rd, 2013, Environment America Research and Policy Center released a report, “Lighting the Way: What We Can Learn from America’s Top 12 Solar States,” describing the benefits of solar energy and some of the related policies.
The Dazzling Dozen are ranked by the highest per capita solar electricity capacity, and include the states of Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, New Jersey, New Mexico, California, Delaware, Colorado, Vermont, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Maryland. Arizona ranked first, producing 167 Watts per person of solar electricity, while Colorado ranked eighth, producing 52 Watts per person. These twelve states account for only 28% of the population, but 85% of installed solar photovoltaic systems in the United States.
According to the report, the reason that these states are leading the way in solar installations is linked to policies that encourage solar power. The Dazzling Dozen are much more likely to have policies in net metering, grid interconnections, and renewable electricity standards, as well as creative financing options.
Other topics of discussion in the report include some of the reasons why solar is on the rise, as well as how solar energy helps the environment, consumers, and the economy. One striking statistics in “Lighting the Way” related to the environmental benefits of solar energy was that, “even when emissions from manufacturing, transportation and installation of solar panels are included, solar power produces 96 percent less global warming pollution than coal-fired power plants over their entire life-cycle, and 91 percent less global warming pollution than natural gas-fired power plants.”