Last week, a new report by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) revealed what many of us in the solar industry knew: States with clean-energy-friendly policies attract more businesses.

The theory is not new. For years , the Solar Energy Industries Association has published an annual Solar Means Business report, showing major corporations, including Target and Walmart, are joining the solar revolution in methodical, thoughtful ways.

According to the latest report, the top corporate solar users in the United States have now installed more than 1 gigawatt (GW) of solar capacity. These Fortune 500 companies have installed solar at nearly 2,000 individual installations nationwide.

The RILA/ITIC report, however, highlights how positive clean-energy policies can encourage new businesses to move to states. It should be noted the rankings are on clean energy and not exclusively solar, but it’s not a stretch to say solar plays a significant role in the renewable energy mix.

What has me most excited is the end of the report (pp. 33-34), which includes a five-point roadmap for states to follow to have positive clean-energy policies (and, as a solar installer focused primarily on the commercial-and-industrial (C&I) markets, the third one pleases us immensely). It includes:

  • Remove barriers to corporate deployments of both onsite and offsite renewable installations.
  • Support the development of next-generation options to purchase renewable energy through utilities in regulated markets.
  • Expand energy-choice options for C&I customers in regulated markets.
  • Ensure that adequate markets exist for renewable purchasing through both utilities and third-party programs.
  • Ensure that renewable energy in both regulated and deregulated markets can scale rapidly.

It’s impossible to look at that roadmap and not get excited about the prospects of expanding solar into all 50 states, using that pathway as a model. Now, I realize I’m dreaming if I think everyone who needs to read this report in state legislatures and governor’s mansions will.

But even if solar advocates pass it along to just a handful of legislators, perhaps we can get a groundswell of support building a national policy framework friendly to solar. If we do that, businesses will follow – and that’s development all of us can get behind.