AP Photo/Matt York

A new report tracks where consumers will get the most out of renewable installations.

If you’re going to install solar panels on your roof, you’ll want to know what it will cost and how much money you can save. The answers to those questions depend on two more complicated criteria: How difficult is it to connect to the energy grid, and how will you be compensated for the electricity your panels produce? Luckily for the solar pioneer, a newly updated report grades each state on its answers to these questions.

The “Freeing the Grid” scorecard, released Monday by the nonprofit Interstate Renewable Energy Council, serves as a handy tracker for the growth of policies that promote “net metering” (which compensates homegrown energy producers for the surplus electricity they pump back into the grid) and “interconnection” (which is the technical term for the logistics involved in actually hooking up a renewable energy project to the grid). The trend is decidedly positive. The number of states with A grades for net metering has more than tripled since tracking began in 2007. That year, no states got A’s for interconnection; now 10 do, though 16 received F’s.

If you‘re mulling a rooftop solar installation (or any other kind of renewable energy project), it’s worth playing around with the report’s map. It grades on just two major criteria, but it gives a quick sense of how much of a headache to expect from the regulatory process in a given state, and how much you’ll benefit from the energy you produce.

Here’s a quick take: if you live in Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Oklahoma, or Tennessee, you probably want to wait for some legislative reform, because these states score F’s on both counts. If you’re a resident of California, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oregon, or Utah, though, full speed ahead: they’ve earned double aces.

The interconnection map shows more room for improvement than net metering. Many states don’t have any interconnection policy, which leads to a failing grade. (IREC / Vote Solar)

Interestingly, states with a strong net metering policy don’t always match it with interconnection plans. That may be because interconnection procedures often fly under the radar—they’re “really not sexy,” says Sara Baldwin Auck, regulatory director at the Interstate Renewable Energy Council.

“A lot of times, what happens is policymakers have the best intentions and they want to enable a market, so they put forward the standard policy package, and net metering is one of those market-enabling factors,” says Auck. “They aren’t aware how fundamentally critical interconnection is to that market.”

That would be akin to a state encouraging people to start driving but not figuring out a uniform, transparent, and straightforward system for approving and distributing driver’s licenses. It gums up the workings of an otherwise viable program.

“We’d like to see states adopt policies that do not conjure images of the DMV and the experience of sitting idly for hours at a time to get your license,” Auck says.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Warren Logan
    Transportation

    A City Planner Makes a Case for Rethinking Public Consultation

    Warren Logan, a Bay Area transportation planner, has new ideas about how to truly engage diverse communities in city planning. Hint: It starts with listening.

  2. an aerial view of Los Angeles shows the complex of freeways, new construction, familiar landmarks, and smog in 1962.
    Transportation

    The Problem With Amazon’s Cheap Gas Stunt

    The company promoted its TV show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel with a day of throwback 1959-style prices in Los Angeles. What could go wrong?

  3. A rendering of Oakland, California, that replaces Interstate 980 with a surface boulevard
    Transportation

    Here Are the Urban Highways That Deserve to Die

    The Congress for New Urbanism once again ranks the most-loathed urban freeways in North America—and makes the case for tearing them down.

  4. a photo of the L.A. Metro Expo Line extension
    Life

    Why Can’t I Take Public Transit to the Beach?

    In the U.S., getting to the beach usually means driving. But some sandy shores can still be reached by train, subway, and bus.

  5. Two women wave their phones in the air at a crowded music festival.
    Life

    The Rise, and Urbanization, of Big Music Festivals

    The legacy of hippie Woodstock is the modern music-festival economy: materialist, driven by celebrities and social media, and increasingly urban.

×