By Cody Smith, policy writing assistant, Center for Rural Affairs
As renewable energy continues to bring prosperity to states with supportive policies, rural communities are in the spotlight. Solar and wind energy projects create new jobs and tax revenue in communities that host them, helping them become more independent and resilient.
One of the most useful tools for people who want to generate their own energy from renewables is net metering. Net metering allows consumers to become partially energy independent by producing their own electricity and sending their excess energy back to the grid. These customer-generators are often reimbursed for extra energy through credits on their utility bills, essentially allowing them to turn back their electric meter.
Through net metering, homeowners are able to conserve energy while utilities gain access to local, renewable energy that they can use to meet the needs of other customers. Meanwhile, the installation of smaller generation systems, like solar panels, brings jobs to communities where consumers are looking to invest in projects. Nationwide, the solar industry supports approximately 242,000 jobs, and there is plenty of room for growth as panels become cheaper and more efficient.
In many states, strong net metering policies have lead to a boom in clean energy adoption. The top five states for solar are California, North Carolina, Arizona, Nevada, and New Jersey, and each have robust net metering policies. Across the nation, supportive policies have empowered consumers, rural communities, and many others to shine as leaders in solar energy.