Report: State governments need to improve net metering options

Emerging energy technologies mean the practice could make a substantial difference for energy consumption, but states need to do more to encourage adoption.

http://www.stateline.org/live/details/story?contentId=165983 State and local governments could substantially relieve energy consumption by simplifying their regulatory schemes for "net metering," the process by which homes and busineses can sell the energy they create back utilities, Stateline.org reports. The Network for New Energy Choices found that some 25,000 home generate their own power, 15,000 of them participate in net metering - mostly in California, where 13,000 homes do net metering. The next closest state is New Jersey, with just 300 families.

The NNEC released a report in November, “Freeing the Grid,” which concluded that states’ confusing laws and poor public-information campaigns have kept more people from the practice. If lawmakers streamlined the tangle of rules surrounding net metering and better educated customers about it, more homeowners and businesses would install their own power-generation equipment and use the two-way link with power grids, according to the report.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) supports expanding net metering, and Democrats expect to include it in an energy bill this session.

The NNEC report awarded states a letter grade, “A” through “F,” on the effectiveness of their programs. Indiana and Arkansas have the worst net-metering practices, the report said, attributing it to power companies wresting too much control over the net-metering legislation in both states. Indiana’s law sets a low cap on how much electricity individual customers may produce, and Arkansas’ law creates severe financial disincentives for people to participate. Both states got an “F,” as did Colorado, Delaware, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Texas.

So does California - far and away the most active net metering state - get the top grades? Nope. The honor goes to New Jersey, which NNEC says, gives consumers the best incentives to sign up. California and NJ, as well as Oregon, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire and Wisconsin, got As.

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