Freeing the Grid Intro
Freeing the Grid is a policy guide developed by Vote Solar, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council and GRACE that grades all 50 states on two key renewable energy programs: net metering and interconnection procedures. Together these policies empower energy customers to use rooftop solar and other small-scale renewables to meet their own electricity needs. Now in its sixth year of publication, the report shows that states nationwide are continuing to embrace best practices and drive further improvements in these core renewable energy policies.
Commonly known as the policy that enables a customer’s electric meter spin backwards, net metering is the billing arrangement by which customers realize savings from their clean energy systems. 1 kWh generated by the customer has the exact same value as 1 kWh consumed by the customer.
What makes an effective net-metering program?
- Allow net metering system size limits to cover large commercial and industrial customers' loads; systems at the 2 MW level are no longer uncommon.
- Do not arbitrarily limit net metering as a percent of a utility’s peak demand.
- Allow monthly carryover of excess electricity at the utility’s full retail rate.
- Specify that customer-sited generators retain all renewable energy credits for energy they produce.
- Allow all renewable technologies to net meter.
- Allow all customer classes to net meter.
- Protect customer-sited generators from unnecessary and burdensome red tape and special fees.
- Apply net metering standards to all utilities in the state, so customers and installers fully understand the policy, regardless of service territory.
Download IREC’s model net metering rules
Go to the official Freeing the Grid website
Each state regulates the process under which a generator can connect to the distribution grid. These policies seek to keep up the stability of the grid as well as the safety of those who use and maintain it. Technical standards serve an extremely important purpose in the U.S. economy. By meeting a uniform set of procedures and electrical specifications, a wide variety of products and technologies, like distributed generation (DG), can be developed at low cost.
What makes effective interconnection standards?
- Set fair fees that are proportional to a project’s size.
- Cover all generators in order to close any state-federal jurisdictional gaps in standards.
- Screen applications by degree of complexity and adopt plug-and-play rules for residential-scale systems and expedited procedures for other systems.
- Ensure that policies are transparent, uniform, detailed and public.
- Prohibit requirements for extraneous devices, such as redundant disconnect switches, and do not require additional insurance.
- Apply existing relevant technical standards, such as IEEE 1547 and UL 1741.
- Process applications quickly; a determination should occur within a few days.
- Standardize and simplify forms.
Download IREC’s model interconnection procedures