Energy policies in Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) member states are undergoing substantial changes as installations of distributed generation systems, such as rooftop solar panels and other small-scale renewable energy technologies, continue to expand. This expansion has been encouraged by state and federal tax credits, which have made renewable energy technology, especially solar energy technology, increasingly affordable. Further encouraging the installation of distributed generation technologies is the availability of net metering programs, whereby customers who generate some of their own electricity are able to offset their electricity bills by selling their excess power back to a utility provider. Net metering allows customers a chance to recoup the high initial cost of installing distributed generation systems, and may provide a positive return on investment.
Increases in the use of distributed generation systems by consumers have led to an increase in demand for utilities to offer net metering. Of the 15 states represented by the SLC, 11 have statewide net metering policies, while Texas has a voluntary policy. Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee do not yet have net metering policies in place. This SLC Regional Resource reviews the concept of net metering and analyzes the status and nature of net metering legislation and trends in SLC member states.