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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.
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 Service Board ("PSB" or "Board"). 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.
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)).
In order to install a net metered system you must first obtain a "Certificate of Public Good for Interconnected Net Metered Power Systems" (CPG) from the Vermont Public Service Board ("PSB" or "Board"). 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 Board, the interconnecting electric company, and the Public Service Department 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 certificate of public good 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.
Certificate of Public Good application forms may be found on the Public Service Board's website. For more information on the net metering Certificate of Public Good, contact the Public Service Board ("PSB" or "Board") at 802-828-2358.
All net metered systems must meet the Public Service Board's Interconnection Safety and Technological Requirements. While local zoning and permitting requirements are not required, they are recommended.
See also the PSB’s Net Metering Rules: PSB 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.