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Alaska has more residential solar installations than Alabama. So does Rhode Island, Delaware, Mississippi and every other state except North and South Dakota. Georgia has 10 times as much residential solar as Alabama, and South Carolina has 17 times as much as Georgia.

But that could change soon for Alabama.

For years, solar advocates have pointed to a hefty solar fee implemented by Alabama Power, the state’s largest electric utility, as the biggest reason why Alabama has lagged behind other Southern states in rooftop solar, and now a federal court battle is looming to determine whether the fee is legal or not.

Alabama Power, which supplies power to much of Alabama, charges customers with rooftop solar a monthly fee of $20-32 for an average-sized system. If the fee is found to violate federal law, some advocates believe Alabama would see a surge of rooftop solar installations, as the state catches up to the rest of the nation.

“Customers can’t save money by going solar in Alabama, because the utility has structured things to make it impossible for customers to save money,” said Sean Gallagher, vice president of state regulatory affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group representing solar installers and manufacturers.

“And so the utility, Alabama Power, has effectively quashed rooftop solar in the state.”

According to the SEIA’s state residential solar data, Alabama ranks 49th out of 51 among U.S. states, plus Washington D.C.

[Dennis Pillion]

More: Alabama last among Southern states in solar power, but change could be on the horizon

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