On October 23, 2013, the Vote Solar Initiative (Vote Solar) and IREC announced the 2013 results of Freeing the Grid, a report that grades all 50 states on two key policies: net metering and interconnection procedures. Together, these policies empower American energy consumers to use rooftop solar and other small-scale renewables to meet their own electricity needs. The report was released during Solar Power International, North America’s largest solar trade show.
Find Freeing the Grid 2013 online at: www.freeingthegrid.org
“Effective energy policy and a hefty dose of ingenuity have achieved something remarkable: renewable resources are now at the scale and cost necessary to allow them to be a real and growing part of our energy landscape. Families, schools and businesses are going solar in record numbers nationwide, even as incentives decrease. Now that we’ve built this new energy economy, it’s critical that we keep the way clear for Americans to keep going solar with strong net metering and interconnection policies,” said Adam Browning, executive director of Vote Solar.
“This is an exciting transition as renewables edge closer to mainstream status. However, policy design on the frontiers of our fast-changing clean energy marketplace can be a challenge to get right. Freeing the Grid helps policymakers and other stakeholders make better sense of best practices and what needs to be done in their own state to clear the way for a 21st century approach to energy,” said Jane Weissman, IREC president and CEO of IREC.
2013 report highlights include:
- Net Metering Grades: This policy ensures that renewable energy customers receive full credit on their utility bills for valuable clean power they put back on the grid. The District of Columbia and Minnesota both improved their net metering grades over 2012, and not a single state grade declined, a significant outcome considering that net metering policies were under review in many states. In total, more than two-thirds of U.S. states now qualify for good ‘A’ or ‘B’ grades in this important clean energy policy.
- Interconnection Procedure Grades: These are the rules and processes that an energy customer must follow to be able to ‘plug’ their renewable energy system into the electricity grid. This process should be straightforward, transparent and fair. The Freeing the Grid interconnection grading methodology was recently updated to reflect current best practices. Under this new methodology, half of U.S. states receive good ‘A’ or ‘B’ grades, and the remaining are in need of significant improvement.
- Head of the Class: Four states achieved excellence in both net metering and interconnection policies this year: California, Massachusetts, Oregon and Utah. These states lead the nation in allowing customer participation in the renewable energy market.
- Most Improved: Washington made significant improvements to its statewide interconnection procedures and jumped from a D to a B in this category. The changes remove unnecessary requirements and procedures for interconnecting smaller renewable energy systems, clearing the way for the more expedient review of larger systems.
- Issue Highlight: Valuing Net-Metered Generation: With rooftop solar and other distributed generation growing at a record pace, states nationwide are undertaking comprehensive studies to assess the benefits and costs of this dynamic resource. The importance of these valuation studies cannot be overstated as they are being used in many states to inform the future of net metering and, by extension, rooftop solar. Regulators, utilities and other stakeholders should adopt a standardized set of ‘best practice’ methodologies to help ensure the accountability and verifiability of these benefit and cost estimates.
Now in its seventh year of production, Freeing the Grid is designed to help state policymakers, regulators, advocates and other stakeholders easily understand and improve the pillars of our new energy economy. Freeing the Grid’s grading methodology was also adopted for use in the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, which aims to reduce the cost of going solar by 75% before the end of the decade.
- Interactive Freeing the Grid state-by-state map
- Educational video about net metering and interconnection
About Vote Solar:
The Vote Solar Initiative is a grassroots non-profit organization working to combat climate change and foster economic development by bringing solar energy into the mainstream.www.votesolar.org