This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.
California and New York Extend Their Net Metering Laws
The states of California and New York took separate actions recently to encourage consumers to generate their own electricity using renewable energy sources.
In California, Governor Gray Davis approved a bill that will extend the state's "net metering" law indefinitely. Net metering laws allow individuals to generate their own power from renewable energy sources and feed excess power into the electrical grid, paying only for the net electricity they use over the course of a time period (usually a month, but sometimes as long as a year). The California net metering law applies to systems up to one megawatt in size, although it places restrictions on wind installations greater than 50 kilowatts. See the governor's press release.
In New York, Governor George E. Pataki signed a net metering law specifically to encourage farmers to produce energy from agricultural wastes using anaerobic digesters. The law applies to systems up to 400 kilowatts in size. The new law adds to an existing net metering law, which applies only to residential solar power systems of 10 kilowatts or less. See the governor's press release.
For more details on either of these laws (or to check whether such laws exist in your state), see the "Summary Tables: Rules, Regulations & Policies" on the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE)Web site.
Net metering is just one of the issues faced by people who want to generate their own power-many have trouble just connecting their systems to the power grid. For instance, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) recently approved a procedure that requires generators to pay the cost of connecting to the grid as well as the cost of regular independent inspections of their systems. Small generators did get a break, though: those under 25 kilowatts only need to be inspected every three years. See the Idaho PUC press release.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is trying to simplify the process of making grid interconnections. FERC proposed a standardized set of interconnection agreements and procedures in August, including a simplified procedure for systems that are under two megawatts in size. Comments on the proposal are due November 4th. See the FERC Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.