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    The Sun is Shining on Solar Power

    By By Grace Muller, AccuWeather.com staff writer
    October 02, 2011, 2:56:37 AM EDT

    This week, solar electricity made the news with high-profile investments by Google and the government's energy department.

    Google announced that they're funding the installation of solar panels on 10,000 homes. The Obama administration's investment will loan out about a billion dollars to electric companies developing their solar programs.

    When looking for the best places for solar, sun is one part of the equation.

    Globally, locations closest to the equator get more sun than places near the poles. But there's a reason that New Mexico gets more sun that Tennessee.

    "Without moisture, you can't create clouds," AccuWeather Meteorologist Brian Edwards said. "That's one of the biggest things. That's why there are more sunny days in Arizona and Southern California."

    Which states get the highest number of sunny days? DATA: The National Climatic Data Center's ranking of cities based on percent of possible annual sunshine


    However, "It's not as simple as you think it is," Mike Taylor, director of research for the Solar Electric Power Association, said.

    The area doesn't just need sunshine. Investors calculate the cost of electricity in the area. For expensive solar panels to save money, electricity needs to be expensive too. A sunny spot where a homeowner can get electricity for 10 cents per kilowatt hour isn't as good of an investment as a cloudy spot where electricity costs twice as much.

    The best states for solar also offer rebates and incentives for solar projects.

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