Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) introduced an amendment to the Energy Bill, which would update existing language for net metering and interconnection.Washington, D.C., July 29, 2003 [Solaraccess.com] Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) introduced an amendment to the Energy Bill, which would update existing language for federal net metering and interconnection. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has endorsed the amendment language and is working to gain a broad base of support for the measure. Currently, the United States has a patchwork of more than 50 different standards for how small generators (e.g. home solar and small wind) can connect to the grid, according to SEIA. These devices are UL-listed and operate to IEEE certification, but the additional layers of unpredictable regulations can make customers uncertain of their ability to use their systems and makes the installation of these systems much more complex and expensive than they would be otherwise. Net metering, a critical means of realizing return on investment for these types of systems, by allowing customers to spin their meter backwards via their small energy system, is similarly unpredictable. Both Energy Bills contain language that would lead to more standardized interconnection rules. The Cantwell Amendment would strengthen this language by: – Changing the provision from an “opt-in” measure that states would have to choose to participate in, to an “opt-out” provision that would require them to find that adoption and compliance was not in the public interest. – Providing a savings clause that exempts states that already meet or exceed the federal standard. – Requiring the Department of Energy (DOE) to report on state progress, and to develop a list of equipment pre-certified for super-expedited interconnection of this type. – Establish a cap from 10 to 25 kW for residential systems, and from 500 kW to 1 MW for commercial and industrial systems. – Establish a preference for a single meter, as opposed to requiring multiple meters, which can be an additional expense for residential consumers and unsightly. – Clarifies Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) legislative authority to create national interconnection standards for very small generators for all customers to use, provided the generators meet nationally recognized technical and safety standards including Underwriters Laboratory certification. SEIA sees the amendment as an important change. The organization said without it, actual implementation of federal net metering and interconnection would be spotty at best. SEIA does not believe it would be the type of change that would be expected to cause concern in the Senate. Because SEIA believes that the danger is more that it would be ignored than opposed, SEIA is attempting to register overwhelming support for the amendment (see link below). SEIA has issued a “Call to Action” to seek endorsement, citing the importance of immediate support, because the Senate is expected to complete its work on the Energy Bill as early as next week. They urge companies and organizations to contact SEIA in order to be listed as supporters of the amendment. “We need to reach our full potential in the residential, as well as the commercial marketplace,” said SEIA Executive Director Glenn Hamer. “Senator Cantwell has proposed a very important amendment, which, if adopted, would change the architecture of the rules and regulations. That would help us move towards more elegant and consumer-friendly national interconnection and net metering standards.” For more information and a chance to help, see the link below.