All but four U.S. states saw some form of attack last year on distributed generation—the process by which householders and other independent power consumers produce their own electricity, usually from rooftop solar arrays, and direct surplus electrons back through existing grids.
Although allowing individual customers to generate solar power and share it with their neighbours via the grid “creates local economic, social, and environmental benefits,” reports John Farrell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, “it erodes profitability for major utilities that remain tied to a 20th century business model.”
As a result, power companies across the country are fighting back using a variety of tactics, including arbitrarily capping the amount of distributed power they accept onto their systems, reducing what they pay for that power, or refusing to do business at all with third-party agents that install solar panels on customers’ roof space.
To illustrate the breadth of the counter-effort, Renewable Energy World reproduces one example from a series of maps developed by the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center and Meister Consultants Group. Their full report plots the variety and extent of utility initiatives to hobble the development of generation that is not under the companies’ direct ownership and control.