Why can’t we get a standard net-metering policy across the entire country?

The Net-Metering standards in every area are very different. It’s by Utility here in Arizona. Some only give avoided cost of about 1/3 the real cost. For time of day they want extra for special meters, and some zero out each month, quarter or year end. Why can’t we get a standard net-metering policy across the entire country? — Jim S., Chandler, AZ

Jim, your question goes to the guts of the interconnection issue. The goal has been to get the solar interconnection components to conform to UL 1741 and then for the system certification to be in compliance with IEEE 1547. Now 39 states have net metering laws based on these two standards and they are all different – from actual component requirements, to whether it’s state-wide or utility service territories, and with different size limitations from 2 – 10 – 100 kWs – 2 MWs! The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued a notice to consider expediting interconnection under 2 MWs and some states are following suit. In the recently-passed 1724-page Energy Policy Act of 2005, Title XII which deals with Electricity (Sections 1251, 1254), interconnection expert Chris Cook states, “Rather than mandating federal net-metering standards and interconnection standards, the two sections direct states to undertake consideration and make a determination with respect to each standard. It is impossible to say with certainty if states will have broad or narrow discretion in meeting the requirements of these sections. The essence of Section 1254 is to promote the standardization of interconnection procedures around the IEEE 1547 standard. Whether fortuitous or by design, Congress’ articulation on interconnection happens to fit nicely with FERC’s interconnection rules for small generators (Order 2006), issued in May 2005.” Since the majority of States now implement interconnection standards and these standards are implemented in ways that deter interstate commerce, it is critical for the federal government to create a national standard and rules as it has done both for telephones and satellite dishes. Manufacturers don’t have to produce different refrigerators or televisions for each State and they shouldn’t have to do so for photovoltaic, small wind and other clean distributed generation interconnection systems. And the consumers who want to access the new tax credits coming in 2006 thru 2007 and meet State Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards should be howling at their local Members of Congress day and night. Passage of a national interconnection rule will speed up installations, lower consumer costs of systems, and frankly, increase reliability and performance — a worthy national goal.
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Scott, founder and president of The Stella Group, Ltd., in Washington, DC, is the Chair of the Steering Committee of the Sustainable Energy Coalition and serves on the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, and The Solar Foundation. The Stella Group, Ltd., a strategic marketing and policy firm for clean distributed energy users and companies using renewable energy, energy efficiency and storage. Sklar is an Adjunct Professor at The George Washington University teaching two unique interdisciplinary courses on sustainable energy, and is an Affiliated Professor of CATIE, the graduate university based in Costa Rica. . On June 19, 2014, Scott Sklar was awarded the prestigious The Charles Greely Abbot Award by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) and on April 26, 2014 was awarded the Green Patriot Award by George Mason University in Virginia.

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