Solar shines more brightly with help from government

photo Volkswagen and city officials flipped on the switch to the new solar park in January.

Top solar states1. California2. Arizona3. New Jersey4. Nevada5. North CarolinaTennessee ranked 14th and Georgia ranked 22ndSource: Solar Energy Industries Association data, based upon installed PV capacity in 2012By the numbers• The U.S. has over 7,700 MW of installed solar electric capacity, enough to power more than 1.2 million American households.• Over 82,000 homes installed solar across the country in 2012.• The commercial market installed over 1,040 MW in 2012, up 26 percent over 2011 totals.

Local governments and businesses in Tennessee increasingly are letting the sunshine in, at least as a way to power their own buildings.

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean told a solar energy conference Thursday that he and other city leaders are turning more to solar power as a cleaner and greener source of energy for offices, fire halls and even sewage treatment plants.