Given the current ongoing COVID-19 situation, you may be wondering both if it’s even possible to still go solar and, if so, where solar installations are still actively taking place. The short answer? Yes and yes! Here’s a deeper dive into what we know about where people are still actively installing solar today.
Going solar during shelter-in-place advisories
As much of the country continues to shelter-in-place and/or practice social-distancing, one major question on solar shoppers’ minds is: can I still go solar right now? Under recently updated guidelines provided by the US Department of Homeland Security, solar workers qualify as essential, meaning that yes, solar installations can still occur.
Importantly, individual state or local governments may have introduced additional guidelines for which industries qualify as essential during shelter-in-place advisories, which supersedes the federal guidance. For instance, in New York, solar installations can only currently take place in order to directly power transit facilities, health care facilities, affordable housing, or homeless shelters. In other words, residential solar installations are not allowed in New York under current guidelines.
To see what the current status of solar in your state is, check out this great resource from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), which provides information on the status of state closure orders (and ability to install solar) across the country.
Are solar installations still happening?
We at EnergySage have been closely monitoring the impact of the COVID-19 related shutdowns on both solar shoppers and solar installation companies. To that effect, we asked our nationwide solar installer network if they were still actively putting panels on rooftops. 90% of installers we’ve surveyed say they are still actively installing solar. If you have quotes for solar on EnergySage and are curious if the installers in your area are still out in their neighborhoods installing solar, shoot them a quick question in the EnergySage Message Center in your Marketplace.
Where are these solar installations taking place?
Another great source of information about the current status of solar installations nationwide comes from Ohm Analytics, who are tracking and publishing data about the number of solar permits issued in different parts of the country. While the data are just a sampling from major cities and counties (and not entire states), they are indicative of larger trends at the state level.
At a high level, the permit data confirm that across the country, solar companies are still actively installing solar throughout the country, except in New York, where permits have bottomed out completely. Ohm Analytics points out that, across the board, permits for solar increased 10% week-over-week in mid-April in the jurisdictions they are tracking, a positive sign as both homeowners and solar companies adapt to the current situation.
At the individual state level, the data show that:
- In California, weekly permits have decreased by about 50%, but are still being submitted at a high volume;
- In Chicago, submitted solar permits are higher than in January and February;
- In Colorado, Maryland, Nevada, and New Mexico, after momentary blips, submitted solar permit volume is continuing more or less unchanged;
- And in New York, after the Governor’s Executive Order establishing that residential and commercial solar installations are non-essential at the end of March, weekly permit volumes bottomed out entirely.
Research and shop for solar online with EnergySage
Regardless of whether you’re ready to install solar right now or not, you can get started researching the benefits of solar and shopping for custom solar quotes from the comfort of your couch with EnergySage. Check out our Solar 101 page to learn more about how solar energy works and the steps to go solar, our solar calculator to see how much you can save, and our Marketplace to receive free solar quotes from companies near you.