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Charlotte near bottom of solar ranking

Workers install solar panels on the roof of a home. SolarCity, a leading installer, will begin offering loans to homeowners for rooftop solar systems, a move that analysts say could reshape the market.
Workers install solar panels on the roof of a home. SolarCity, a leading installer, will begin offering loans to homeowners for rooftop solar systems, a move that analysts say could reshape the market. AP

Charlotte ranks near the bottom of major U.S. cities in solar arrays per capita, a new analysis of building permit data shows.

The research firm BuildZoom, which analyzes trends in the construction industry, said Charlotte ranked 36th among the 40 largest metropolitan areas.

Sunny San Diego lead the list, followed by San Jose, Calif., and Phoenix.

Building permits for new solar systems have increased twentyfold in the past decade, the firm said, from about 10,000 in 2005 to 230,000 in 2014.

The amount of sunlight and availability of local incentives are key factors in why some areas install more solar power than others, BuildZoom said.

While North Carolina’s renewable energy standard has made it the fourth-largest solar state, that growth has been largely in the form of utility-scale solar farms.

A measure to let non-utility renewable energy companies sell electricity directly to their customers is before the state legislature now. If approved, the measure would let companies lease rooftop solar systems to homeowners, reducing up-front costs.

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Twitter: @bhender

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