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A regional collaboration of public media stations that serve the Rocky Mountain States of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Some Mountain West states are leading the rooftop solar charge

A man installing solar panels on the rooftop of a home.
Elena Elisseeva
Flickr Creative Commons
In 2022, a record 700,000 homeowners installed solar systems nationwide, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

A new report shows rooftop solar energy in the U.S. has increased tenfold over the past decade. Some states in the Mountain West lead the charge while others lag behind.

In 2022, rooftop solar generated 61,281 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity, which is enough to power nearly 6 million U.S. homes, according to Environment America, a research and policy group.

Across the Mountain West, the amount of energy produced by rooftop solar is all over the map.

Nevada could power 129,209 homes, which ranks No. 8 in the nation. Not far behind is Colorado, which could power 127,997 homes (No. 9). On the other end of the spectrum, Wyoming rooftops could power only 2,145 homes (No. 46) and Idaho could power 16,669 homes (No. 36).

Elsewhere in the region, Utah could power 72,394 homes (No. 15) and New Mexico could power 54,669 homes (No. 17).

Johanna Neumann, senior director at Environment America, said lawmakers should make rooftop solar more accessible for homeowners and businesses.

“It's becoming increasingly absurd that consumers are paying a utility company to get energy from a polluting power plant hundreds of miles away, when they could just be soaking up the sun on their roofs,” Neumann said.

According to the report, rooftop solar has the potential to generate 45% of the nation’s electricity needs. In 2022, however, it produced just 1.5%.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The photo included in this story is licensed under Flickr Creative Commons.

Kaleb is an award-winning journalist and KUNR’s Mountain West News Bureau reporter. His reporting covers issues related to the environment, wildlife and water in Nevada and the region.
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