On Solar PV Net-Metering and Interconnection, How Does Your State Measure Up?

How easy is it to go solar in your state? A new “report card” by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) and Vote Solar grades all 50 U.S. states on two important criteria for solar development: interconnection standards and net-metering policies.

Now in its 9th year, the report card shows that some states are making progress, raising their grades from, for example, a “C” to an “A” by enacting simplified interconnection rules or lifting net-metering caps. On the other hand some states are falling behind.

The “Interconnection Procedure Grade” is based on the rules and processes that energy customers must follow to be able to ‘plug’ their renewable energy systems into the electricity grid. Five states – Hawaii, Illinois, Mississippi, New Hampshire and North Carolina – improved their interconnection grades in 2015. Only one, North Dakota, received a lower grade. Half of U.S. states have good ‘A’ or ‘B’ grades, and the remaining need improvement.

A high “Net-metering Grade” is given when renewable energy customers receive full credit on their utility bills for the clean energy they deliver to the grid. More than two-thirds of U.S. states now qualify for good “A” or “B” grades in this important clean energy policy. On the flip side, four states received lower grades, including the one-time rooftop solar leaders Hawaii and Nevada, which are both failing as a result of recent policy decisions that drastically change the value proposition for solar customers.

Further, for the first time this year, the group gave states an “F” if they had no policies in place at all.

“Our nation’s energy future is being charted today in the halls of state regulatory forums and legislatures. We have consumers demanding more access to clean, affordable electricity than ever before, and Freeing the Grid shows which forward-looking states are working to clear the way for consumer investment in solar power and its many benefits to our communities, our economy and our climate,” said Vote Solar Executive Director Adam Browning.

 “More states across the country are actively working to adopt best practice interconnection standards, which help support and enable growth of customer-generated energy sources,” said IREC Regulatory Director Sara Baldwin Auck. “In addition to ensuring the safety and reliability of the electric grid, these technical standards also enable fair, affordable and efficient consumer access to renewable energy. States with updated, best practice interconnection rules and policies in place enable an improved experience for utilities, regulators, renewable energy developers and consumers alike.”

The very cool interactive state report card is available on the web.

Lead image: Politician with report card. Credit: Shutterstock.

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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com

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