Where are communities taking charge of their energy future? Which states give communities the most power?
How to Use the Map
The map provides markers to show local activity and layers to highlight state policies. The markers include:
- Local Community Renewable Energy Projects, mostly community solar and community wind, like those we feature in our Local Energy Rules podcast
- Community Groups that are helping take charge of their community’s energy future
- 100% Renewable or Climate commitments by cities, including commitments for municipal buildings only, or entire cities (Listen to our Voices of 100% podcast series and learn more about national or international 100% renewable campaigns.)
- Utility (Feed-in) Tariffs that allow small power producers a simplified path to selling energy from new, distributed renewable energy projects into the electric system.
- Municipal utilities–city-owned electric utilities
- Active CCAs (Community Choice Aggregations) — communities that, empowered by state law, decide where they buy their energy from
- Inclusive Financing programs allowing energy customers to make energy efficiency or renewable energy investments without taking out a loan
- Active PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) Programs allowing energy customers to finance renewable energy and energy efficiency on their property tax bill (more from PACENow)
The layers include:
- The State Community Power (CP) Score, a value assigned each state based on its policies supporting local energy action.
- Net Metering policies, including those that allow customers to aggregate their energy use across multiple buildings or generate energy off-site (data from SolarPowerRocks and DSIRE)
- Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing laws that allow communities to set up repayment programs for energy efficiency and renewable energy through the property tax system (data from PACENOW)
- Community Choice Aggregation laws allowing cities to choose their energy suppliers on behalf of all residential and small commercial customers (data from LEAN Energy US and others)
- State (Feed-In) Tariffs or standard contracts that allow small power producers a simplified path to selling energy from new, distributed renewable energy projects into the electric system.
- Residential Energy Building Codes that allow cities to set higher standards than the state, or give cities the ultimate authority
- State Renewable Portfolio Standard Carve-Outs for solar or distributed renewable energy that require utility companies to purchase renewable electricity specifically from small-scale sources (data from DSIRE)
- Interconnection Scores for the ease of installing and connecting renewable energy to the grid, from the Interstate Renewable Energy Council’s Freeing the Grid report
- Shared Renewables programs allowing customers to share a slice of a renewable energy project without having to own a suitable space for a wind turbine or solar panel (data from SharedRenewablesHQ and National Conference of State Legislatures)
State Community Power Score Methodology
The Community Power Score assigns points to each state based on its policy environment for supporting local energy action. It includes points for all of the state policies in the map above. The 2019 scoring methodology is as follows:
|Community Choice Aggregation||7 points for having a state policy allowing communities to choose their electricity supply.|
|Net Metering||5 possible points for having a “customer-friendly” net metering environment based on each state’s net metering grade provided by SolarPowerRocks. 0 for an F grade, 2 points for a D, 3 for a C, 4 for a B, and 5 for an A grade.|
|State Renewable Portfolio Standard Carve-Outs||5 points for a distributed generation or solar-specific renewable portfolio standard. 3 points if the renewable portfolio standard has expired.|
|Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE)||3 points for Single-Family Residential or Commercial PACE, 5 points for both.|
|Residential Energy Building Codes||1 point for a state-set code, 3 points for local authority with no state code, 5 points for a state code with local stretch code.|
|State (Feed-in) Tariffs||3 points for having a state feed-in tariff, 1 point if the tariff has been suspended or is no longer accepting applications.|
|Shared Renewables||6 possible points for a statewide shared/community renewables policy and program. Rubric developed to evaluate existing policies and programs across six different factors:
1 point for an enabling state policy (e.g., virtual net metering or a shared renewables policy); 1 point for an operational program (i.e. some capacity is in operation, or has been awarded); 1 point for meaningful policy or requirements that specifically address low-income access; 1 point for policies that include multiple eligible technologies (e.g., solar, wind, digesters); and up to 2 points for effective and established programs: 1 point for a capacity greater than 25 watts per capita online, and an additional point for a capacity greater than 100 watts per capita online.
|Interconnection||0 for an average grade from SolarPowerRocks on policies for connecting renewables to the grid, +1 for a B, +2 for an A. -2 or -1, respectively, for an F or D grade.|
Help Us Improve the Map!
Inevitably, we missed some of the exciting local renewable energy projects and state policies around the nation. That’s where you come in. Fill out the following form to help us, as we regularly update our map.