Electric slide: NJ drops to No. 3 in US for solar power

For years, New Jersey has had bragging rights that prompted frequent double-takes.

It was second in the nation in the amount of solar power installed.

Whaaat? More than all those sun-basking southern states?

Not any more. Thursday, with the release of a 2012 solar market report, New Jersey’s solar prowess slipped.

Arizona edged into the No. 2 spot, both in the total amount of solar power installed, and in the amount of solar installed in 2012.

The No. 1 state was, not surprisingly, California. By far.

The report, from the Solar Energy Industries Association, noted that Arizona’s bump in the standings was due to large-scale utility installations. New Jersey’s focus has been smaller residential and industrial arrays.

But New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel took the news as an occasion to blame an end to solar rebates and other “failed policies of the Christie administration.”

Overall, the news was bright for the U.S. solar market. It grew 76 percent in 2012.

Some 16 million solar were panels installed in the nation last year — “more than two panels per second of the work day,” said SEIA president Rhone Resch. “We’ve brought more new solar online in 2012 than in the three prior years combined.”

Pennsylvania ranks No. 11 in the amount of solar power installed in 2012. It comes in No. 8 in total solar power installed.

Meanwhile, New Jersey has at least one area where the industry shines.

As the association noted in an infographic, the state has more solar company locations than tanning salons.