Ever wondered why New York State, and New York City in particular, are so far behind other parts of the country (and even the region!) when it comes to actual numbers of installed renewable energy systems (especially solar panels)? I’ve received some inquiries on this topic from people who want to see more solar power in NYC, and it seems that a good place to start is knowing what the roadblocks are. One of the biggest is our state’s restrictions on net metering (allowing excess energy generated to be sold back to the grid). With high installation costs and long payback periods for solar and wind power systems, limiting the owner’s ability to sell power back to the utility can be a deal-breaker for many. This further discourages an increase in the number of installations that could potentially bring prices down through economy of scale. Here are some details, courtesy of Environmental Advocates of New York‘s [Green] Capitol Insider e-newsletter:
NYS Gets â€œDâ€on Clean Energy Report Card
New Yorkâ€™s net metering policy, the practice that credits consumers for the clean power they generate, received a grade of â€œDâ€ on a report card released earlier this month by the Network for New Energy Choices.
New York has one of the most restrictive net metering policies in the Northeast. Pennsylvania and New Jersey received â€œAâ€s and Connecticut scored a â€œB.â€ The report card is available at www.newenergychoices.org.
New Yorkâ€™s net metering policy, often referred to as â€œspinning the meter backward,â€ restricts the size of eligible energy systems. We are also one of only two states in the nation (out of the 40+ that are currently home to net metering policies) that doesnâ€™t allow commercial and industrial customers to receive credit for the excess power they generate back to utility companies. Current New York State law limits system capacity to sizes too small to give businesses incentives to invest in their own clean energy systems.
The state can improve its net metering policy by increasing eligible system size, opening up net metering to all customersâ€”residential, agricultural and business, expanding net excess generation for wind, and increasing the overall limit on net metering enrollment.
Fixing the stateâ€™s net metering policy would go a long way toward unleashing the economic development potential of the growing clean energy industry in New York.
True that. Judging from a panel discussion on solar power in NYC that I attended recently, there is a growing citizen movement to address this problem through lobbying and activism. I’ll post info as it comes in.