Is the Green Mountain state about to become the green power state? As the battle over net metering policy is being fought in state legislatures across America, one small state has given solar advocates a big win – Vermont.
Governor Peter Shumlin signed legislation into law yesterday that will nearly quadruple the net metering cap utilities have been using, from 4% to 15% of peak load. The bill enjoyed bipartisan support, passing 136-8 in the state house and unanimously in the state senate.
Vermont may rank among the middle of the pack in America’s solar industry, but the new law is a significant validation of the value of solar energy for consumers and the overall economy, and shows utilities can work with distributed generation without falling into the “death spiral” fueling so many state-level fights.
Net Metering Cap Jumps From 4% to 15% Peak Demand
The new cap means retail electric customers will now be compensated for sending solar energy they don’t consume back onto the grid, up until net metering payments surpass 15% of peak demand from the previous year or from 1996, whichever amount is greater. Vermont currently has 3,600 net metering projects.
“Vermont’s decision sends the clear message that rooftop solar delivers benefits to utilities, the grid, and all ratepayers,” said Bryan Miller, President of The Alliance for Solar Choice.
Any grid-connected renewable energy generation system below 500 kilowatts (kW) capacity, intended to primarily offset a consumer’s own electricity consumption will qualify for the new net metering limit, on a first-come, first-served basis. . . .