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Our mission is to respond to the global warming crisis by promoting energy efficiency, alternative energy, and environmental initiatives throughout the town of York, Maine.
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[Source: The US Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)]

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Group Net Metering

The topic is a bit wonky, but its potential is huge. So-called “group net metering” could allow homeowners and businesses to become more locally self-sufficient, while at the same time encouraging the expansion of more efficient, economical projects to generate and distribute renewable energy. Net metering is an electricity policy for consumers who own (generally small) renewable energy facilities such as wind turbines or solar photovoltaic panels. In effect, a homeowner or business owner can sell any excess electricity back to the electric utility, or more accurately, create a “bank” of electricity credit that can then be drawn upon during the times when usage exceeds generation.

The following video from freeingthegrid.org provides a good summary of net metering:

Freeing the Grid from Freeing the Grid on Vimeo.

The net metering report at Freeing the Grid recognizes aggregate and group net metering policies as a key ranking indicator when evaluating best practices in state policies.

An article in Renewable Energy World (renewableenergyworld.com) by Andrew Savage describes the benefits of group net metering.

Almost every state in the country has net metering laws on the books.

But only a few states allow a lesser-known policy that is critical for the expansion of distributed renewables, particularly community-scale solar — that’s aggregate, virtual, or group net metering.  And there are a lot of good reasons to want to see its expansion.

The basic premise is that the output of a renewable system can be shared among accounts.  An extension of this policy is allowing multiple electric customers to share in a net metered system’s output.  This is often referred to as “community net metering,” “aggregated net metering,” “virtual net metering,” or “group net metering.”

However, whatever you want to call the policy, looking at the small number of states that permit such net metering reveals a myriad of unnecessary exclusions and caveats which limit their effectiveness — and the amount of net-metered solar.

Savage outlines reasons why state policies need to be more supportive of group net metering. Here are some excerpts:

Choosing the most productive sites:  Group net metering allows installers, investors, and customers to choose the best possible site for a renewable energy system.  Rather than being boxed in to a less-than-adequate roof or a geographic space too small or too shaded for the most cost-effective net metered projects, group net metering allows for ideal siting, making for a better investment with higher financial returns…

Achieving economies of scale: While traditional net-metered solar often makes a lot of financial sense, group net metering laws allow for economies of scale in larger project development.  According to the Department of Energy, the average residential cost of solar is approximately $6/watt nationally.  Meanwhile, larger scale distributed solar projects cost $3/watt (for fixed solar) or even below…

Creative solar finance:  Group net-metering policies facilitate community solar projects and third-party ownership models, expanding opportunities for customers.

Read the rest of the article.

Maine actually has one of the most progressive policies when it comes to group net metering. Up to 10 meters can be net metered against a single eligible facility.

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