October 20, 2011

2011 Freeing the Grid released; more states make the grade on renewable energy policies

Press contact: Rosalind Jackson, [email protected], 415-817-5061   More States Make the Grade on Renewable Policies for American Energy Consumers According to 5th Annual Report Card  ‘Freeing the Grid’ Policy Guide Adopted by DOE SunShot Solar Cost Reduction Program New York – October 20, 2011 – Renewable energy advocates today released the 2011 Edition of Freeing…

Press contact: Rosalind Jackson, [email protected], 415-817-5061


More States Make the Grade on Renewable Policies for American Energy Consumers According to 5th Annual Report Card

 ‘Freeing the Grid’ Policy Guide Adopted by DOE SunShot Solar Cost Reduction Program

New York – October 20, 2011 – Renewable energy advocates today released the 2011 Edition of Freeing the Grid, a policy guide that grades all 50 states on two key programs: net metering and interconnection procedures. Together these policies empower energy customers to use rooftop solar and other small-scale renewables to meet their own electricity needs.  Now in its fifth year of publication, the report shows that states nationwide are continuing to embrace best practices and drive further improvements in these core renewable energy policies. The report’s 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.

“It is clear that our nation’s states can and will continue their proud role as the growth drivers of America’s new energy economy. Renewable energy has strong support from state policymakers and the citizens they serve. That support is not restricted to any particular party affiliation or geographic location. It is bi-partisan, it is pervasive, and it is no surprise. If there’s one thing Americans in all our diversity can agree on, it’s that we can do better with our energy choices. Freeing the Grid outlines a better path forward,” said Adam Browning, Executive Director of Vote Solar.

Freeing the Grid 2011 report highlights:

  • Net Metering Policies: Commonly known as the policy that lets a customer’s electric meter spin backwards, net metering is a simple billing arrangement that ensures solar customers receive fair credit for the electricity their systems generate during daytime hours. Net metering best practices have evolved to include virtual net metering, meter aggregation and other innovative community solar models that allow energy consumers to come together and take advantage of economies of scale when investing in clean energy. In 2011, 17 states received top “A” grades for their net metering policies, up from 15 in 2010 and only 5 in 2007.
  • Interconnection Procedures: Interconnection procedures are the rules and processes that an energy customer must follow to be able to “plug” their renewable energy system into the electricity grid. In some cases, the interconnection process is so lengthy, arduous and/or expensive that it thwarts the development of clean energy altogether. In recent years, many states have been working to streamline interconnection. In 2011, 23 states received “A” or “B” grades for good interconnection practices, up from twenty in 2010, and a tremendous improvement over the single “B” grade awarded in 2007.
  • Head of the Class: Massachusetts and Utah received top “A” grades in both policy categories for the second year in a row. In 2011 they are joined at the vanguard of best practices by Delaware, which made particularly impressive improvements to its interconnection practices from last year’s “F” grade.
  • Shows Promise: A number of states received an “A” in one category and a “B” in the other making them strong distributed renewable energy markets that have continued room for improvement: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.
  • Most Improved: Indiana made impressive year-over-year improvements, from a “D” in net metering and “C” in interconnection in 2010 to solid “B”s in both categories this year.

“The age of grid parity is upon us—in some places in the country, you can generate your own electricity with solar and wind more cheaply than buying dirty power from your utility.  It’s truly the democratization of energy, but it only works if you have access to the plug and if you get fair credit for generation.  Poor interconnection and net metering policies can stand in the way of building a sustainable, growth industry. Ensuring that residents and business have fair access to the grid and get fair credit on their utility bills are two simple but highly effective ways to unleash renewable energy growth,” said Kyle Rabin, Executive Director of NNEC.

“Renewable power has the ability to jointly address three of the most pressing issues facing our country today: the economy, energy and the environment. Given all that’s at stake, all 50 states should be making the grade. I encourage state policymakers and renewable advocates to explore Freeing the Grid and apply the lessons therein to improving these important energy policies in their own states,” said Joseph Wiedman, representing the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. (IREC).

“We produce Freeing the Grid each year to reflect current best practices in this dynamic policy arena and give state leaders a clear blueprint for renewable energy success. We are particularly proud to have had our 2011 guidelines used in the grant review process of the DOE’s new SunShot Program, an initiative to significantly reduce the cost of going solar in states and communities nationwide. With these policies, states have the tools they need to help make renewable energy cost-effective,” Laurel Varnado, Policy Analyst with the North Carolina Solar Center.

Freeing the Grid is produced annually by NNEC in partnership with Vote Solar, IREC, and the North Carolina Solar Center. The report is endorsed by Solar Alliance and the Solar Foundation. Download the full text of the 2011 report at: www.freeingthegrid.org

About NNEC: Network for New Energy Choices (NNEC) promotes policies that ensure safe, clean, and environmentally responsible energy options. www.newenergychoices.org

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 nationwide. www.votesolar.org

About IREC: The Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. (IREC) is a premier resource for current information, education, credentialing and best practices regarding renewable energy. www.irecusa.org

About the North Carolina Solar Center: A public service center at North Carolina State University, the Solar Center manages the go-to resource for current clean energy policies nationwide, the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE). www.ncsc.ncsu.edu