This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.
Report: States Falling Short on Interconnection and Net Metering
A new report concludes that all 50 states are failing to provide easy access to the electrical grid for home-grown renewable energy systems, while only four states are doing their best to assure that the owners of such systems earn credit for power fed into the grid. Regarding "interconnection," or the connection of customer-owned power systems to the grid, many states set an arbitrary maximum size of the system that can be connected to the grid, or they set a cap on the total combined capacity of the systems connected to the grid. In many states, utility customers must pay high fees for interconnection, while also having to meet unreasonable requirements for safety features, liability insurance, and approval paperwork. Regarding "net metering," which provides a utility bill credit for customers who feed power into the grid, some states allow utilities to credit the power at a rate that's lower than the retail rate, to limit the amount of credit earned, or to limit the credit that can be carried over from month to month. Net metering often excludes commercial and industrial partners and sometimes requires the installation of an extra meter. And of course, many states don't have a policy for interconnection or net metering at all.
The new report, "Freeing the Grid," is an update of a 2006 report and is prepared by the Network for New Energy Choices, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), the Vote Solar Initiative, and the Solar Alliance. The report finds that as of September 2007, only 34 states and the District of Columbia had statewide interconnection policies, and of those, 8 states and the District of Columbia received failing grades. New Jersey and Arizona have the best interconnection policies, both earning a "B" from the report's authors. Likewise, only 38 states and the District of Columbia had statewide net-metering policies, and of those, 4 states and the District of Columbia received failing grades. Five states—California, Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania—earned an "A" for their net-metering policies. The report includes IREC's model interconnection standards and net-metering rules, which sets a gold standard against which the state standards and rules were compared. See the report on the Network for New Energy Choices Web site (PDF 2.2 MB). Download Adobe Reader.