It would be easy to conclude from what we read and hear that Vermont is at the forefront when it comes to renewable energy. The legislature has joined other states in adopting a Global Warming Solutions Act, a number of electric utilities assert that they are “100% renewable,” and we see more solar panels than we ever used to. Sadly, however, yesterday’s incentives are rapidly becoming today’s disincentives, and it is going to take a lot of work to turn the tide.
Vermont’s regulatory approach to net metering serves as an unfortunate example of this, and provides the title for today’s blog. Through a series of rule changes over the years, the compensation of full retail utility rate plus a six cent “adjuster” you received as a new GMP net metering customer a decade ago gave way to reduced adjusters, then to a 2017 Public Utility Commission (PUC) rule under which the PUC determines a “blended residential rate” (which is lower than retail for most customers) and applies adjustors to that rate, which have eroded by one cent over each of the past few years.
Sounds ok, right? It isn’t. Under the adjustors now in place, the value assigned to a new net metering customer’s renewable energy credits is currently zero. Yes, you read that correctly – no credit for contributing to the public good. To make it even worse, on September 1st the combined value of the adjusters is negative one cent. Can you imagine if your bank or any other business told you your reward for doing the right thing in the right place was to pay a penalty? Enough said.
The message here is twofold and straightforward. In this regulatory climate, get your net metering system in as soon as possible, and join with us and others to fight for a system that recognizes the true value and necessity of renewable energy.
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