California, watch out -- you have a new rival! When it comes to the top solar state position, that is.
The latest report from NPD Solarbuzz puts North Carolina in the #2 position for the U.S. solar market in terms of installed capacity. The state climbed three places in 2013, surpassing New Jersey and Arizona to get to #2.
The report attributes much of the state's growth to strong activity in utility-scale solar installations. Duke Energy has been active in creating solar farms in North Carolina, and more are in the works from Asheville-based solar farm company Innovative Solar Systems.
This is good news for North Carolina. A Crossborder Energy study last year found that solar expansion in the state could save ratepayers there $26 million.
Solar is also bringing jobs to the state. WRAL TechWire reports that Strata Solor plans to employ 100 workers at its North Carolina headquarters by the end of January and 1,200 contractors statewide constructing projects, while The Solar Connection plans to add 50 jobs at a new manufacturing facility in the state.
Other states to watch this year are New Mexico and New York, new on the top 10 list. They displaced Maryland and Colorado, both strong solar states. Texas is also moving up quickly, and given that state's huge solar potential, we may yet see big things happening in solar there.