NEW YORK - 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 ensure 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, says the report. 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 interconnection policies, and of those, eight 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 net metering
policies, and of those, four 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
set a gold standard against which the state standards and rules were compared.
The report is available on the Network for New Energy Choices
Website at www.newenergychoices.org/uploads/FreeingTheGrid2007_report.pdf.