By common consent, rapid adoption of renewable energy resources by homes and small businesses depends on the availability of what''s called net metering''the ability, technically and legally, to sell surplus energy back into the grid. Only if local jurisdictions guarantee that option will homes and small businesses find it profitable to install solar panels, erect a small wind turbine, or drill to tap geothermal energy. A new report from the Network for New Energy Choices assesses the state of the union in terms of net metering, grading progress or regression in all 50 U.S. states.
The report finds that three states in particular''Arizona, Illinois, and Florida''have made major progress in setting standards and rules for net metering, and that 15 others have made significant progress. Texas, in a section about ''worst practices,'' is singled out for criticism, its having formulated a progressive law only to let special interests torpedo it. New Jersey''s standards and rules get extensive attention in a section about ''best practices.''
Some states are taken to task for setting unduly low caps on the size of electrical systems eligible to feed back electricity into the grid, and for creating unnecessary bureaucratic impediments. New Jersey is praised for simplifying procedures, eschewing unnecessary safety requirements, allowing relatively large entities to feed back electricity, and for adopting model interconnection standards developed by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.