The Best and Worst US States for Rooftop Solar Panels

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The Best and Worst US States for Rooftop Solar Panels
In this July 28, 2015, photo, electricians Adam Hall, right, and Steven Gabert, install solar panels on a roof for Arizona Public Service company in Goodyear, Ariz. Traditional power companies are getting into small-scale solar energy and competing for space. The emerging competition comes as utilities and smaller solar installers fight over the future of the U.S. energy system. (AP Photo/Matt York)

If you’re going to install solar panels on your roof, you’ll want to know what it will cost and how much money you can save. The answers to those questions depend on two more complicated criteria: How difficult is it to connect to the energy grid, and how will you be compensated for the electricity your panels produce? Luckily for the solar pioneer, a newly updated report grades each state on its answers to these questions.

The “Freeing the Grid” scorecard, released Monday by the nonprofit Interstate Renewable Energy Council, serves as a handy tracker for the growth of policies that promote “net metering” (which compensates homegrown energy producers for the surplus electricity they pump back into the grid) and “interconnection” (which is the technical term for the logistics involved in actually hooking up a renewable energy project to the grid). The trend is decidedly positive. The number of states with A grades for net metering has more than tripled since tracking began in 2007. That year, no states got A’s for interconnection; now 10 do, though 16 received F’s.

If you‘re mulling a rooftop solar installation (or any other kind of renewable energy project), it’s worth playing around with the report’s map. It grades on just two major criteria, but it gives a quick sense of how much of a headache to expect from the regulatory process in a given state, and how much you’ll benefit from the energy you produce. […]