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South Dakota Lagging on Solar Power Development

South Dakota has some innovators taking advantage of solar power, but we're still behind the rest of the country in squeezing electricity from all that free nuclear fusion from heaven.

Nerd Wallet ranks states for residential solar energy based on 2011 data. They factor in the amount of sun each state gets, how much electricity costs (i.e., how much homeowners can save by making their own power), how much each state promotes investment in solar, and how much solar power is already put to use. The top states are sunny California, Hawaii, and Arizona, followed by much less sunny Maryland and Delaware.

How does South Dakota rank?

  • In solar potential, we tie with Indiana for 27th. Indiana still produces 35 times more solar power than we do. States that get less sun than we do but which are using more solar power include Minnesota, Washington, West Virginia, Maine, and Rhode Island.
  • Our monthly electric bills are 31st in the nation. Among the 19 states where your monthly juice is cheaper are Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, and Wyoming. North Dakota's are just one rank higher than ours.
  • We're 41st in state incentives. South Dakota's utilities like things the way they are, and they work hard to make sure the Legislature and PUC keep them that way.
  • We tie for last place with North Dakota, Iowa, and Alaska for megawatts of solar power produced. Now you may think that since we're a smaller state with fewer power users, that ranking doesn't mean much. But grab the Energy Information Administration data Nerd Wallet uses, multiply consumers by average consumption, and figure solar capacity as a percentage of total consumption, and South Dakota still ranks 46th. The only states with lower solar capacity per consumption are Alabama, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Iowa. (Note: Iowa appears to have multiplied its solar capacity in 2012 by a factor of 10.)

Dakota Rural Action is promoting small-scale distributed power generation like solar power for good reason. Other states with less sun show we can do more with solar. We need a little more political will to make it happen.


  1. Roger Elgersma 2013.09.04

    Some think we have enough sun already.

  2. ltfbs 2013.09.05

    Start thinking of how to fit solar to your home. 1366 Technologies is predicting 10 cent per Watt solar, installed. 1366, led by a Professor from MIT, sprung from the ashes of a company ruined when China gave its solar industry billions they then used to cut solar panel retail prices in half. Because of the inaccurate press and the harassment by Fox and Friends (GOP), 1366 refuses any Public money and does not yet, sell stocks.

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