How maddening is it to try to gauge how much net metering capacity remains in any given U.S. state? Multiply the answer by 50, and that equals a lot of frustration, confusion, and lost time. Happily, EQ Research has created a new resource that reveals how much net metering capacity remains in each U.S. state under its current policy. This new resource serves as a companion to a related study published earlier this month by EQ.
For each of the 44 states that has established a net metering policy, the new interactive U.S. map indicates: (1) if an aggregate cap exists, (2) a description of how the cap is calculated, (3) the percentage of the cap met thus far with installed systems, and (4) the percentage of the cap met thus far with installed plus pending systems (if data is available). The map incorporates the most recent data available from government and utility sources as of August 2015.
Fifteen states have firm aggregate caps for net metering, while 12 states have a cap that may be enforced — or expanded — at the discretion of state regulators. The most recent data available indicates that eight states have exceeded 50% of their aggregate cap when considering installed systems only: California, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Taking into account installed plus pending net metering applications (where data is available), 11 states have surpassed the 50% threshold.
For example, taking into account installed net metering systems only, Oregon has reached 213% of its cap (which is discretionary). At the other end of the spectrum, Illinois has reached less than 1% of its cap. Louisiana has met 88%, and Maine has reached 77%.
A related EQ Research study concluded that weak reporting requirements for net metering in some U.S. states are needlessly creating murky market conditions for solar PV systems and other distributed renewables. The study found that the usefulness of net metering reports depends on the types of data reported, how frequently the data is reported, and in what format the data is provided. Better reporting practices could easily improve market transparency, benefiting consumers, installers and policymakers alike.
The Great Guessing Game: How Much Net Metering Capacity is Left? examines and compares reporting requirements and practices in 13 states with different levels of market maturity: California, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Utah and Virginia. Based on the findings of the study, the authors proposed nine ideal data and reporting practices for states and utilities to consider. These ideal practices are especially salient in states with large or burgeoning distributed solar markets.