Net metering customers might take a hit in Vermont

Electric Meter

Proposed changes would make big impact on solar energy in the state

Vermont might be the latest state to alter its net metering laws, as pending legislation would impact solar energy in the state in numerous ways.

The Vermont Public Service Board drafted a proposal that would change the laws for state’s net-metering program, lowering compensation and thus stripping away some of the economic benefits for individuals who generate extra solar energy.

Net metering is system in which owners of residential (usually rooftop) solar installations are compensated by state utilities for unused electrical power generated by their solar arrays. Currently, at least 43 U.S. states have net metering in place in some capacity.

Different price levels for net-metered systems

The proposed changes include altering the way in which partners are compensated for excess electricity generated. Currently, many solar customers get paid retail rates — as much as 19 cents per kilowatt-hour — for excess energy. The new rules would create different rate classes, so this rate of payment would likely drop for many of the customers.

Under the updated rules, different price levels would be created to help better categorize different types of solar installations, and public outreach with local governments and residents would be required before any large net-metering systems see the light of day.

The proposed changes also include a new monthly fee, called a “grid-service fees” that would be imposed on people in the net-metering program.

Turn back the clock

Net metering has been in place for some time in Vermont, since 1998, and has been a major factor in the growth of renewable energy in the state.

The Public Service Board will revisit these proposed net metering changes when it holds two public hearings in early May.