Overall, 2008 was a celebratory year for those monitoring net metering and interconnection issues across the country—nineteen states plus the District of Columbia improved upon their net metering policies while nine states enhanced or expanded their interconnection standards for distributed generation (DG).
Notable net metering advances showed some general trends toward an increase of the system size cap, elimination or increase in the aggregate limit on enrollment and a growing interest in community and virtual net metering. Several states increased their system size limitation including Florida (2 MW), Arizona (125% of a customer’s total connected load), and Utah (2 MW for commercial systems). A few states also increased or eliminated the aggregate cap on overall enrollment including Virginia (from 0.1% to 1.0%), Arizona (no explicit cap), and Utah (considering increase from 0.1% to 20%).
Ohio carved out a special provision for hospitals in that they may dual meter without a facility size cap, but they will receive market value (essentially avoided cost) for any energy they produce. More states have also started engaging in community, neighborhood or virtual net metering policies as evidenced by rulings in Massachusetts, New Jersey, California and Maine. Oregon and Nevada ruled that third-party ownership arrangements are eligible for net metering. Texas was the only state to backpedal and virtually nullify its net metering policy; they now require customer-generators to negotiate a financial arrangement with retail electric providers, the very situation net metering is meant to avoid.
Headlining the 2008 interconnection issues-of-import were the utility external disconnect switch (UEDS), upper limits on system size eligibility and insurance requirements. The utilities commissions in Florida and North Carolina pronounced that customers with systems under 10 kW will not have to pay an additional cost for installing a UEDS (utilities may require one in NC but they must foot the bill for the UEDS if they do).
North Carolina also removed the upper limit on system size applicability and New Mexico set its limit at 20 MW. Illinois and New Mexico decided not to require insurance on smaller systems (those under 250 kW in NM and 1 MW in IL) and Nevada ruled that utilities do not have to be named as additional insured on a customer-generator’s policy. Florida waived the insurance requirement for systems 10 kW or less and North Carolina ruled that, while insurance is necessary, the typical amount carried by a property owner would suffice.
By Laurel Varnado, DSIRE