Title

The impact of state level policies on residential solar panel installations.

Date of Award

5-1-2015

Document Type

Thesis

School

College of Liberal Arts

Degree Name

Bachelor in Arts

Abstract

This thesis contributes to ameliorating anthropogenic climate change by making policy recommendations to make solar energy more affordable. First, this thesis discusses the relevant economic lens to evaluate rooftop solar electricity-and its fossil fuel alternatives. Chapter one identifies the Pigovian approach and its application to electricity production. Since fossil fuels impose negative externalities on society, the Pigovian approach calls for increasing the cost of fossil fuels. Meanwhile, since solar electricity offers positive externalities, its price should be lowered. Chapter two discusses the underlying factors that influence solar panel demand. These relevant variables can be manipulated by policy to make solar panels more appealing to consumers. In chapter three, four states' (Oklahoma, California, New Jersey, and Florida) approaches to rooftop solar policy are examined, critiqued and compared. Chapter four introduces the policy recommendations produced in this thesis. These recommendations are based on the relevant variables identified in chapter two and the case studies in chapter three. This thesis found that, in order for states to encourage solar panel growth, states must eliminate policies that discourage solar panel purchases and implement taxes on fossil fuel competitors. In addition, states should offer net metering, feed in tariffs, tax incentives, rebates, and programs specifically geared to make rooftop solar more affordable to lower income communities. By implementing these policies, states can improve the environmental and economic sustainability of their electricity portfolios.