U.S. states are continuing to embrace best practices and drive further improvements in core renewable energy policies, according to the 2011 edition of Freeing the Grid, a policy guide that grades all 50 states on net metering and interconnection procedures.
The report's methodology was adopted for use in the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot initiative, notes the Network for New Energy Choices, which produced the report in cooperation with Vote Solar, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council and the North Carolina Solar Center.
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, the report says. In 2011, 17 states received top ‘A’ grades for their net metering policies – up from 15 in 2010 and only five in 2007.
Additionally, 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 20 in 2010, and a tremendous improvement over the single ‘B’ grade awarded in 2007.
Massachusetts and Utah received top ‘A’ grades in both policy categories for the second year in a row. 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, the report adds.
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.
According to the report, Indiana made impressive year-over-year improvements, from a ‘D’ in net metering and ‘C’ in interconnection in 2010 to solid a ‘B’ in both categories this year.