Alternative energy will get boost from net metering law

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Look around your house. If you're interested in "going green," Gov. Dave Heineman just gave you an extra room.

Heineman and the Legislature just approved "net metering" for Nebraska, meaning people who generate their own electricity get full credit for the extra power they pump into the electrical grid.

The "current" system -- pardon the pun -- involves some fees and provides only partial credit for power sold to utilities.

Now, if you have your own wind turbine or solar panel, the power grid serves as your storage system, taking power you produce when you don't need it, and giving it back when you do.

Green-power purists who want to be "off the grid" will still have to invest and maintain their own batteries or other storage systems at their own expense.

Last summer, when we saw a solar-powered car plug in during a stop in McCook on an around-the-world trip, it seemed like the drivers may have been cheating.

Not so, they contended; they were simply drawing out some of the power that their home solar cells were pumping into the grid back in Europe.

Nebraska's new net metering law should give alternative energy a boost in the state -- as well as giving us extra room for something else where we might have installed our batteries.

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