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Musings of an Energy Nerd

Residential PV Installations in Florida Remain Strong

Installers report that many solar customers are asking for batteries

A photovoltaic array can be installed on a roof, on a ground-mounted rack, or on a shade structure. These solar gazebos were installed at a large house in Florida. [Photo courtesy of Goldin Solar, Miami]

While residential photovoltaic (PV) installations in California and Hawaii have been booming for years, the situation in another sunny state—the state of Florida—has been more complicated. Faced with roadblocks erected by solar-hostile utilities, residential PV installers in Florida experienced a tougher regulatory situation than installers in other sunny states. In 2019, when Florida had 6.5% of the U.S. population, the state had only 2.5% of the country’s small-scale PV installations, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Until the recent pandemic, however, the outlook for solar installers in Florida was beginning to look up, and residential PV installations in Florida were even exhibiting the early signs of a boom. In a March 2020 article titled “More solar was installed than any other electricity source in 2019,” journalist Billy Ludt reported that PV sales were excellent in the country as a whole. He wrote, “The U.S. solar market grew by 23% from 2018, according to the U.S. Solar Market Insight 2019 Year-in-Review report released by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie.”

Ludt considered Florida to be somewhat of a solar backwater—or, as he put it, an “emerging market.” He wrote, “But emerging markets also deserve credit for this year’s record-breaking installations, as Florida installed the second most rooftop solar in the country after California. ‘With much of the residential solar market to-date driven by California and Northeast states, Florida is a window into the future of the national residential solar market given its resemblance to the vast swath of markets with no state-wide incentive programs or the high electricity prices that make rooftop solar so attractive,’ said Austin Perea, senior analyst with Wood Mackenzie.”

Until early 2019, residential PV installations in Florida faced multiple hurdles. First, Florida lacks a renewable energy portfolio standard—meaning that there are no…

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