By Patrick O’Grady for Phoenix Business Journal
Arizona ranked third in the U.S. in terms of photovoltaic solar installations, but it trails national leaders by a wide margin.
The U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, published by the Washington-based Solar Energy Industries Association , had first-quarter installations in Arizona at 61.3 megawatts, representing about 12 percent of the U.S. total of 506 megawatts installed during the quarter.
Arizona still is far behind the national leaders in solar installation. New Jersey claimed the top spot for the first time with 174 megawatts installed, easily beating California with 148 megawatts installed.
Arizona benefited primarily from the work at utility projects at places such as the Agua Caliente facility east of Gila Bend. The 290-megawatt photovoltaic power plant is owned by NRG Solar and MidAmerican Solar and is being constructed by First Solar. It now has more than 100 megawatts of production.
Arizona’s residential and commercial solar installations made up less than half of total installations, according to the study.
The pace of installations has not slowed despite turmoil within the solar industry. The average price of solar panels dropped by about 35 percent last year, sending a flood of solar manufacturers to bankruptcy, and the remainder looking at slashing their work forces amid a global glut of panels on the market.
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