Does Your State Have the Right Stuff to Build a Clean Energy Economy?

To help you answer this question, last month, IREC, along with the Vote Solar Initiative, released our annual Freeing the Grid report card for state net energy metering (NEM) and interconnection policies.

After seven years of grading state net metering and interconnection policies, we have a bit of perspective on how they have changed over time.  One thing is for sure: we are looking at a vastly different policy landscape than when we started grading them back in 2007. That first year, for example, we saw only five A’s in NEM and none in interconnection. Fast forward to 2013, and there are 17 A’s in NEM and six in interconnection (see the charts below for a breakdown of 2007 vs. 2013 grades).

Net Metering

Grade

2007

2013

A

5

17

B

7

17

C

14

5

D

8

2

F

4

2

N/A*

12

6

Interconnection

Grade

2007

2013

A

0

6

B

2

19

C

12

4

D

13

5

F

6

1

N/A*

16

15

*Not Applicable denotes states without a statewide policy or those with only voluntary utility policies.

While the progress we’ve made over the past few years is consequential, we should not stop paying attention to these influential policies. Lagging states still need our help. Moreover, distributed generation market conditions are always changing, obliging states to periodically review their policies to ensure they’re still effective. This year, we revised our grading criteria to keep up with innovations from the leading states.

For NEM grading criteria, we revised the point scale to better reflect several important aspects, which fine-tuned the emphasis we place on certain policy provisions. Most notably, we increased the points given to states that allow NEM customers to take advantage of third party power purchase agreements.  We also provided bonus points for restructured states that require “electricity suppliers” to offer net metering and those that allow virtual net metering.

No states dropped a grade as a result of these NEM revisions. In fact, the District of Columbia and Minnesota improved their grades based on advances in their policies.

For interconnection, we updated our grading to reflect innovative solutions adopted by progressive states like Hawaii, California and Massachusetts. We placed a greater importance on objective technical review screens, and added points for supplemental review processes that can speed the interconnection process.

We also added new sections for network and distribution upgrade cost exposure and data provisions. We added bonus points for requiring utilities to accept online applications, and for waiving insurance and external disconnect switch requirements for small generators.

Although Washington moved up from a D to a B for its progressive interconnection improvements, five states dropped a grade, largely due to our greater emphasis on objective technical screens. If we don’t track progress on important policies like NEM and interconnection, how do we know where we’re heading, and more importantly, how can we improve? This is why we’re committed to this invaluable grading effort year after year.

We value and appreciate your feedback. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions or comments so Freeing the Grid will remain a valuable policy tool.  Most of all, we hope you continue to use this report card to learn about state policies and engage in outreach efforts.

Best,

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