This week in ClimatePULSE we take a look at the top 10 green states. But more specifically, those states that have recently taken the lead in accommodating small-scale renewable energy projects. So, what U.S. states are taking that extra step to help individuals and small businesses that want to “go green”? This article will tackle that question with uninhibited enthusiasm and a touch of objectivity. And although this is by no means a general assessment of the environmental policies and practices of each U.S. state, it should help us better understand this year’s “Freeing the Grid” report and particularly which states have the best net metering and interconnection policies – those that allow customers to easily sell power back to the grid.
1. Oregon – This green crusader-of-a-state has made unparalleled progress since the 2007 edition of “Freeing the Grid”. Oregon has not only significantly improved their regulations for allowing people who generate their own renewable energy to receive credit, but has also considerably improved their standards for connecting renewable wind and solar systems to the local electric grid.
2. Maryland – Maybe a bit of a shocker, but this small state has managed to crack the top 3. Almost all types of renewable projects are eligible in Maryland, they allow a 2MW limit on system size, and they credit their participants at the retail rate – rolling over the savings to the next bill.
3. New Jersey – All renewables are eligible in this friendly state – and they have set a limit of 2MW on the system size (better than both Pennsylvania and California in the residential sectors).
4. Pennsylvania – 1 of 6 states that significantly improved their standards for connecting renewable wind and solar systems to the electric grid since 2007. Additionally, they recently (July 2007) enacted legislation requiring investor-owned utilities to offer net metering to residential customers with systems up to 50kW.
5. California – Surprised are we? How can it be that California barely makes the top 5? Well, it’s quite simple, although Cali rates high in terms of installed grid-connected photovoltaic capacity (destroying all other states for that matter), there is still some fine-tuning required for net metering procedures – like increasing the system capacity from 1 MW to at least 2 MW.
6. Colorado – Colorado has impressed industry leaders by continuing to implement excellent net metering policies. All types of renewable energy projects qualify and net metering is made simple by crediting the “net excess” to the consumer’s next bill.
7. Arizona – A state that has made significant progress in terms of new programs for homeowners and businesses that want to generate their own wind and solar energy, connect to the grid and receive credit. However, system size in this state is limited to 125% of the customer’s total connected load.
8. Nevada – In 2007, Nevada increased their net metering capacity to 1 MW. Not to mention, this sun-loving state ranks #2 behind California in terms of cumulative installed PV capacity per person.
9. Illinois – One of three states (the others being Florida and Arizona) that took major steps forward since 2007 in creating new net metering and interconnection programs. Illinois enabled net metering in May 2008 with all renewables (+ microturbines) being eligible.
10. Massachusetts – The Mass net metering system has improved considerably since 2007. The limit on system size was increased to 2MW and “net excess” is rolled-over month-to-month at only a slightly less than retail rate.
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