Net Metering Law
Act 99 raised the net metering cap for each utility to 15% of each utility's peak load of the prior year. The link below is to an Excel table that shows the total number and capacity of net metering systems statewide, by electric company service territory, and by category of renewable energy technology; and the progress of each electric company toward the cumulative 15% capacity cap.
Evaluation of Net Metering in Vermont
Act 99 of the 2014 Vermont legislative session directed the Department of Public Service (Department) to complete an evaluation of net metering in Vermont and file the resulting report with the Public Utility Commission. This report, filed Oct 1, 2014, builds directly from the report completed by the Department in January 2013 pursuant to Act 125 of the 2012 legislative session, updating assumptions and methodology as appropriate. The Department's model estimates the costs and benefits incurred as a result of any single net metering installation installed in 2015 or a later year. A second available spreadsheet calculates the coincidence of net metered systems to each utility's peak, a critical component used in estimating benefits of net metered systems.
Subsequent to the filing of the Department's report, the Public Utility Commission has initiated proceedings to consider changes to net metering in Vermont.
Net metering makes it easier and more cost-effective for Vermonters to generate their own electricity. In 1997 the Vermont legislature passed H.605, which allowed net metering in Vermont. Net metering requires electric utilities to permit an individual customer or group of individual customers (referred to as group net metering) to generate their own power using small-scale renewable energy systems and qualified combined heat and power systems using non-renewable fuels. The excess power they generate can be fed back to their utilities. Prior to net metering, self-generators had to install expensive battery banks to store the power they needed or go through lengthy negotiations with their utilities to have them buy any extra power generated. In its simplest form a net metering system will generate power that will flow to the owner's load, and if there is more power than demand, through the customer's electric meter. The meter will measure electricity flowing in both directions, unifying a customer's power usage and generation.
Who Can Net Meter?
Any electrical utility customer or group of customers of the same utility in Vermont can net meter once they have obtained a Certificate of Public Good (CPG) from the Public Utility Commission ("PUC" or "Commission"). Vermont's net metering law caps the size of net metering generators at 500 kilowatts of generation for the following renewable forms of energy generation: photovoltaic, wind turbines, anaerobic digestion of agricultural products, by-products or waste, biomass, and fuel cells (when fueled by renewable sources). For qualified micro-combined heat and power systems using non-renewable fuels, the size of the cap is 20 kW or less.
Utilities must allow net metered systems on a first-come, first-served basis to all customers until the cumulative generating capacity of all the net metering systems on its lines equals 15 percent of the company's peak demand.
How Does Net Metering Work?
Net metering allows customers to generate and use power simultaneously. If either an individual net metered customer or group net metered customer uses more electricity than is generated, the customer will pay the utility only for the difference. If the system generates more electricity than the customer used in a month, the utility records a credit for the excess kilowatt hours towards the customer's next bill. For net metering customers using solar energy, they will receive an additional credit, or "solar adder," that is calculated by subtracting the customer's utility's highest residential rate from twenty cents. If, at the end of twelve months, a net metering customer still has a credit on his or her bill, then that credit reverts to the utility with no compensation to the customer.
All equipment purchased to construct and install a net metered renewable energy system is exempt from the state's 6% sales tax (Sec. 27. 32 V.S.A. § 9741(46)).
Permitting for Net Metered Systems
In order to install a net metered system you must first obtain a "Certificate of Public Good (CPG) for Interconnected Net Metered Power Systems" from the Vermont Public Utility Commission ("PUC" or "Commission"). You can download and print a copy of the application below. For solar net metering systems that are 15 kW or less, a completed registration form and certification of compliance with the applicable interconnection requirements must be submitted to the Commission, the interconnecting electric company, and the Department of Public Service before a system can be installed. The system may be installed ten days after the customer's submission of a completed registration form and certification of compliance with the interconnection requirements if the ten-day period passes without delivery by the electric company, or other party, of a letter that raises interconnection issues in accordance with 30 V.S.A. §219a(c)(1), or other issues. If there are no concerns raised a CPG shall be deemed issued on the 11th day without further proceedings, findings of fact, or conclusions of law, and the customer may commence construction of the system.
Application for a Certificate of Public Good for Interconnected Net Metered Power Systems
Certificate of Public Good application forms may be found on the Public Utility Commissions website. For more information on the net metering Certificate of Public Good, contact the Public Utility Commission at 802-828-2358.
All net metered systems must meet the Public Utility Commission's Interconnection Safety and Technological Requirements. While local zoning and permitting requirements are not required, they are recommended.
See also the PUC's Net Metering Rules: PUC Rule 5.100: Regulations Pertaining to Construction and Operation of Net Metering Systems for the Purchase and Sale of Electricity from Small Electrical Generating Systems to and from Electric Companies.