It’s one thing to make the decision to go solar, but depending on where in the U.S. you live, the ease with which one connects a household rooftop array to the grid—i.e., actually gets it up and running—can vary greatly. Produced by the advocacy groups Vote Solar and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Freeing the Grid ranks each of the 50 states based on two key clean energy programs: net metering and interconnection procedures. Now in its eighth year, the report is showing marked improvements in many states, but some troubling stagnation in others.

So what is net metering and interconnection? Net metering “ensures that renewable energy customers receive full credit on their utility bills for valuable clean power they put back on the grid.” Interconnection refers to the “rules and processes that an energy customer must follow to be able to ‘plug’ their renewable energy system into the electricity grid.”

Related: US consumers willing to pay higher utility bills for clean energy

All in all, these are fairly important components in the process of going solar and ones which are often regulated by state utility commissions. In some cases, as the report shows, states have adopted progressive policies; five states ranked ‘top of the class’ for both net metering and interconnection—California, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oregon and Utah. Arizona, New Mexico and West Virginia also gained A grades for interconnection, while large portions of the north east and the west ranked highly for net metering.

But then there are the large, gray sections of the map, those without letter grades, sitting on the sidelines as “N/A.” There are a whopping 16 states that do not have legislation to govern interconnection and seven states that do not allow net metering, which greatly reduces the potential cost benefits of going solar. The worst offenders on this front? Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Idaho.

Check out the full report, and see what guidelines Freeing the Grid has for your state to become more solar friendly.

+ Freeing the Grid


Lead image: Net-Metering Grades, Freeing the Grid