News

Sunshine without net metering

South Dakota once carried the official moniker of “the Sunshine State,” and is one of only three states without net metering policies. But what does net metering have to do with sunshine and why has South Dakota, a state with a strong portfolio of renewable energy generation, not yet adopted net metering policies?

Simply, net metering is an incentive for the installation and use of solar photovoltaics (PV) for energy generation. Through the formalization of net metering policies, distributed generation customers — those producing solar energy at their homes or businesses — are more readily able to sell the excess energy generated back to the utility for use across the grid. This sale of power to the utility appears as a credit on the customer’s utility bill. This credit offsets the customer’s electricity consumption during the current month or across the year, depending on state guidelines.

Energy efficiency starts at home

There is a degree of irony discussing energy efficiency during a time of year when many homes are lit like runways. Yet, the cost of a running a few twinkling lights, LEDs of course, pales in comparison to the dollars in heating costs that escape through drafty windows or a furnace in need of a tune-up. Recognizing these opportunities for improved energy efficiency in your home can have a collective impact. 

Rural Americans as Climate Champions

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to spend about 18 months in Tanzania - a country in East Africa where about 80 percent of the population relies on farming as a primary occupation. One day I was relaxing in the lobby of a YWCA and struck up a conversation with a young Tanzanian man who came from a farm family in the nearby foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro. He described how his community relies on annual snowmelt from the mountain to provide drinking water and to irrigate their crops. He also described how, year after year, the snowcap on Kili was shrinking and causing a corresponding decrease in food and water security. What would they do, I asked, when the snowcap disappeared altogether? I will not forget the look on his face as he responded, “we don’t know.”

Rural electric cooperatives help customers save money

We talk a lot about renewable energy at the Center for Rural Affairs. A big reason for that is because new renewable energy projects can provide a lot of benefits to rural communities – things like new tax revenue to fund local essential services like police or emergency services, direct payments to landowners, and bringing new jobs to small towns and rural areas. Those benefits are just the start – these projects also deliver cheap and clean renewable power for homes and small businesses.

New Transmission Key to Connecting Renewables

The Midwest and Great Plains is an area that has a bright future in renewable energy, especially in rural areas. Besides bringing cheap and clean energy to these states, renewable energy also brings new manufacturing and income sources that can reinvigorate local economies. But taking full advantage of the renewable potential in these states requires a way to transport energy from where it is generated to where it can be used by homes and businesses.

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