Vote Solar and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) recently published report cards grading each state on policies related to net metering and interconnection—two measures that are critical in utilities allowing people to generate their own power.
California, Massachusetts, Oregon and Utah each received "A" grades in both categories of the seventh annual Freeing the Grid report. Only six states got an "A" in interconnection, including those four.
"These policies have long been the foundation of strong state solar markets, and that’s more true today than ever before," Vote Solar's Rosalind Jackson wrote in a statement. "Solar is increasingly affordable and incentive programs are winding down in many states ... It’s critical that we keep the way clear for more Americans to generate their own solar power. Strong net metering and interconnection procedures at the state level do just that."
About two-thirds of states got an A or B on net metering, which is defined by Vote Solar and IREC as a policy that ensures renewable energy customers receive full credit on their utility bills for clean power they put back on the grid. Washington DC and Minnesota both improved their net metering grades compared to last year, while no states declined since 2012.
"These policies allow individuals, businesses, schools and others to connect renewable energy systems to the grid under transparent terms and receive a fair credit for excess energy they produce while following practices of safety and reliability," IREC CEO Jane Weissman said.
Interconnection are rules that an energy customer must follow to be able to plug their renewable energy system into the grid, Jackson said.
"This process should be straightforward, transparent and fair," she said. "Our Freeing the Grid interconnection grading methodology was updated for 2013 to reflect current best practices."
The report singled out three states for worst practices—Arizona, Colorado and Idaho. Utilities in each of those states made proposals in 2013 to weaken net metering and/or assess new charges on customers who want to go solar. There were three "F" grades between the two categories—Oklahoma and Georgia in net metering and South Carolina in interconnection.
"We are in the midst of a transition to the era of mainstream renewables that gives Americans control over their power supply and energy bills like never before," Jackson said. "[The report] is designed to help policymakers and other stakeholders make better sense of best practices and what needs to be done in their own state to clear the way for a 21st-century approach to energy."
Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.
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Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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