Vote Solar and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) today released the 2015 grades for Freeing the Grid, an annual report card that rates all 50 states on two key clean energy policies: net metering and interconnection standards. Together, these policies empower energy customers to produce their own power from rooftop solar and other distributed renewables. Now in its ninth year, the report shows an overall trend of improvement despite a few notable examples of states falling behind on these historic pillars of consumer-generated clean energy.
“Our nation’s energy future is being charted today in the halls of state regulatory forums and legislatures. We have consumers demanding more access to clean, affordable electricity than ever before, and Freeing the Grid shows which forward-looking states are working to clear the way for consumer investment in solar power and its many benefits to our communities, our economy and our climate,” said Vote Solar Executive Director Adam Browning.
“More states across the country are actively working to adopt best practice interconnection standards, which help support and enable growth of customer-generated energy sources,” said IREC Regulatory Director Sara Baldwin Auck. “In addition to ensuring the safety and reliability of the electric grid, these technical standards also enable fair, affordable and efficient consumer access to renewable energy. States with updated, best practice interconnection rules and policies in place enable an improved experience for utilities, regulators, renewable energy developers and consumers alike.”
2015 grade highlights include:
- Net Metering Grades: This policy ensures that renewable energy customers receive full credit on their utility bills for valuable clean power they deliver to the utility grid for use nearby. In 2015, six states improved their net metering grades. In total, more than two-thirds of U.S. states now qualify for good ‘A’ or ‘B’ grades in this important clean energy policy. On the flip side, four states received lower grades, including the one-time rooftop solar leaders Hawaii and Nevada, which both fell to ‘F’ grades as a result of recent policy decisions that drastically change the value proposition for solar customers.
- 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. Five states – Hawaii, Illinois, Mississippi, New Hampshire and North Carolina – improved their interconnection grades in 2015. Only one, North Dakota, received a lower grade. Half of U.S. states have good ‘A’ or ‘B’ grades, and the remaining need improvement.
- New for 2015: All 2015 grading criteria were adjusted to remove “N/A” grades, which were given in previous years to states without state-level policies in place. The 2015 criteria allocate an ‘F’ grade to any state without a state-level net metering policy or state-level interconnection standards. This change reflects the growing importance and role of state-level policies in creating greater market consistencies, enhanced transparency, and efficiencies resulting from statewide standardization.
Freeing the Grid is designed to help state policy makers, regulators, advocates and other stakeholders easily understand and improve these historic pillars of the United States clean energy economy. The online resource includes best practices guidelines and an interactive map with state grades and recommendations.