2019 CEQ Annual Report

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Personal Impact*

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Solar Photovoltaics

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In 2019, the amount of solar photovoltaic (PV) installations in Connecticut increased over the 2018 installations and the 10-year average.

Thousands of Connecticut homes now use the sun to generate much of their own electricity. In 2019, 6,452 residential solar PV systems were installed with a total capacity of 55,029 kilowatts (kW). The highpoint for residential solar PV installations came in 2015 (8,191 installations). Through the end of 2019, the total number of approved residential solar PV projects in the state had exceeded 36,000 projects with a total capacity of more than 282 megawatts (MW). The U.S. Department of Energy ( Form EIA-861M) identified approximately 512 MW of PV capacity in the state through 2019, which includes commercial solar PV systems. The New England ISO projects that approximately 1,200 MW of solar PV capacity may be installed over the next 10 years. 

The environmental and social impact of solar PV installations in Connecticut is mixed. The primary advantage of solar PV electric generating equipment is that it produces electric power with zero emissions – no air pollution, wastewater, or noise. The 512 MW of installed PV capacity in the state in 2019 is calculated to produce approximately 600,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) per year, which is calculated to potentially displace annual CO2 emissions by 167,000 tons. However, an issue with land-based solar PV installations is the impact such development has on farmland, forests, shrublands, and the species that inhabit these ecosystems. As a result of citizens’ concerns regarding the proliferation of land-based solar PV systems in Connecticut, the Council issued a special report in 2017,  Energy Sprawl in Connecticut, that identified deficiencies in state policy regarding the selection and siting of land-based PV installations and recommendations to ensure prime farmland and core forest habitats were protected. In response to citizen concerns about energy sprawl in Connecticut, Public Act 17-218 was enacted. The Council evaluated the impact of PA 17-218 in 2019 and found that, consistent with the intent of the legislation, DEEP had enhanced their consideration of the environmental impacts of renewable energy proposals received in response to their solicitations and the Connecticut Siting Council is now formally assessing the impact of certain solar PV proposals on prime farmland and core forests during their deliberations.

Goal: Legislation adopted in 2011 (CGS 16-245ff) set a goal of 300 megawatts of new photovoltaic capacity installed on residential properties by the end of 2022. 

Technical Note:
* Personal Impact indicators illustrate trends in behavior or practices that can be expected to influence the condition of tomorrow’s air, water, land and wildlife.