The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released its report, Status of Residential Deployment of Solar and Other Technologies and Potential Benefits and Challenges. The report considers innovations that have allowed the new and increased availability of such technologies, as deployed by customers, electricity suppliers, or third-parties. These technologies include distributed generation, such as rooftop solar; distributed storage systems, such as batteries in homes; meters and associated infrastructure that provide data to grid operators; and electricity management devices, such as smart appliances. The report reviews federal and state policies that have been implemented to encourage the deployment of these technologies.
The report finds that certain, but not all, of these technologies have experienced increased deployment. While residential solar systems have increased in some states, they still represent a small portion of generation nationwide. The use of advanced meters has increased, with Maine, Georgia, Nevada, California, Oklahoma, and Vermont having the highest percentages of advanced meters deployed in 2015. Residential electricity storage and management technologies are less prevalent. The report also covers potential benefits and challenges of increased deployment of these technologies, including challenges for grid management.
GAO used data from the Energy Information Administration to prepare this report and lists a number of government agencies and stakeholders that it interviewed (including the American Public Power Association, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and the Edison Electric Institute, as well as several independent system operators and state commissions). GAO notes that DOE and FERC provided technical comments on a draft copy of the report, which GAO incorporated as appropriate. GAO has also posted a highlights page and a short podcast covering this report.