From: Paul Schaefer, ENN
Published December 15, 2007 03:58 PM

Spin the meter backward: gold from green

NEW YORK - With the price of a barrel of oil remaining volatile, the price of energy is on everyone's minds. If an individual or business wanted to take charge of their energy future and decrease their monthly bills, it would make sense to allow them to do so, right? In many states they can. It's called net metering and it is a way to generate your own energy from clean sources, like solar power. And it is without the hassle of batteries and the convenience of not having to go "off the grid".



Good net-metering and interconnection policies take the crucial, and simple, first step towards providing for a more reliable electricity grid AND a new, sustainable energy future. Net metering allows an electric customer to use the grid as an energy storage device by accounting for the net energy used. When the customer generates more electricity than they consume, their meter spins backward. Interconnection standards are the rules on how to "plug" into the grid.



The first edition of Freeing the Grid, released in 2006 by the Network for New Energy Choices, highlighted how well-crafted net metering laws can reinvigorate renewable energy policy.



Since the 2006 edition of Freeing the Grid (, there have been great strides in bringing more clean energy to the grid. Many states have taken the lead by reforming their clean energy policies and goals. Forward author Michael Dworkin Points out, "We are still far from conquering the 'Energy Trilemma' - an energy world constrained by the three forces of financial goals, environmental concerns and security risks." In the new 2007 edition, the Network for New Energy Choices teamed up with the Solar Alliance, the Vote Solar Initiative, and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council to bring the most up-to-date analysis of statewide interconnection and net metering rules.



Freeing the Grid 2007 includes:



-- Easy to follow state-by-state scoring and grading for net-metering and interconnection standards



-- Expert analysis, from leading national experts with decades of experience, put in one clear, comprehensive and accessible report



-- The most up-to-date data that are representative of existing state net-metering policies



Does your state make the grade?



-- The new edition includes a grade for interconnection standards--the important precursor to net metering that has the technical rules for customers to "plug in" to the grid



-- New Jersey remains at the top of the class in net metering, but is now joined by Colorado and Pennsylvania



-- New Jersey and Arizona lead in interconnection standards, but fall short of receiving an 'A' (Arizona has an "incomplete" in net metering as they have not yet adopted a policy)



-- North Carolina and Utah flunk out of both classes because their policies are limiting and restrictive



-- Net metering is still not available in South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina



Kyle Rabin, NNEC's director, believes that if we are to effectively combat climate change and tap the clean industry's economic growth potential, all state's must implement strong net metering programs. "States with poor (or no) net metering and interconnection standards are undermining their own efforts to successfully confront climate change and essentially telling the clean energy industry -- with its great potential for job creation -- that they are 'Closed for Business'," said Rabin.



"As Freeing the Grid 2007 points out, without exception, significant deployment of clean, customer-sited, renewable energy only occurs in states with modern net metering policies," comments James Rose, Policy Analyst for NNEC. "Because of neighborhood NIMBY-ism it is a struggle to settle disputes about power plant and transmission line siting. Net metering is a way to get people to say, 'YES! In my back yard!'"



Source: Network for New Energy Choices

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