Ernst & Young: Nevada and Mass are in top 5 for solar investment

Ernst & Young indexes solar investmentErnst & Young released rankings this week that place Nevada and Massachusetts among the top five most attractive states in the country for solar installations.

The finance and accounting firm releases a report twice a year evaluating state attractiveness for solar, wind and mixed renewable energy installations.

Michael Bernier, senior manager of Ernst & Young’s national tax group, focuses on monetizing tax credits. Renewable energy has been a growing part of that work over the last five years, he said.

“The U.S. is a very favorable market for renewable energy,” he said. “But that only tells part of the story. As you know, the U.S. is a big country and different parts are more attractive than others for renewable energy investment.”

Ernst & Young doesn’t just measure the sunny days or possible wind generation capacity in a state, Bernier said. The company evaluates tax credits and other financial incentives that make solar and wind good investments.

The long-term solar index ranks California, Nevada, Hawaii, Massachusetts and New Mexico as top states for solar investment in that order.

The long-term outlook for the all-renewables index places California, Colorado, Texas, New Mexico and Massachusetts at the top of the list.

Ernst & Young has been compiling and publishing its indices since 2008.

“The most important change since then has been the growth of solar,” Bernier said.

Solar made up 15 to 20 percent of the all renewables mix in 2008. Today it’s 45 percent and growing, Bernier said.

He added tat there has also been a lot of movement over the last year toward grid parity for solar, which will likely encourage continued growth in that space. As rooftop installations become increasingly popular, solar will likely continue to grow, Bernier said.

Its share of growth will likely be smaller than if the presidential election had gone to Mitt Romney, Bernier said. The wind energy credit expires at the end of this year, but the solar tax credit doesn’t expire until 2016.

“With the re-election of Barack Obama, there will likely be some continuation of support for wind,” Bernier said.