- The Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) released new draft rules for net metering and installation for small electrical generation projects in the state, but at least one Vermont utility decried the draft rule saying it doesn't address the cost-shift burden on non-rooftop solar users, the Associated Press reports.
- The draft requires utilities to credit system owners for excess energy exported to the grid from distributed generation at the tariff for general residential service or a blended version of varying tariffs. The renewable energy credits (RECs) for the generation may go to the utilities.
- The draft rule sets also encourages developing solar projects on less desirable locations, such as brownfields, while establishing a grandfathering provision for current customers up to 20 years.
Vermont's solar market is nascent, but is undergoing a debate similar to many of its neighbors as its utilities hit the cap on net metered distributed generation and its policymakers try to figure out a net metering policy satisfactory to both sides.
Vermont's lawmakers in 2014 set a cap on net metered distributed generation at 15% of each utility’s peak load and directed the state Public Service Department to complete a study of net metering and file its findings with the PSB.
The PSD filed its report in October 2014 and started an the required stakeholder process to come up with new rules governing net metered systems by January 1, 2017. Adding to the push for revised net metering policy is the 90% renewables-by-2050 mandate state lawmakers passed last year.
"This is really high stakes policymaking,"James Moore, co-founder of Suncommon, Vermont's biggest distributed solar provider told AP. "Getting it wrong has the possibility of completely undermining everything that's been built over the last 15 years."
But Vermont's utilities argue the proposed rules don't address potential how rooftop solar users don't pay their fair share to maintain the grid . "We're overpaying for solar, we're doing it by charging other customers, charging the customers who don't have solar to pay for the ones that have solar," Vermont Electric Cooperative CEO Christine Hallquist told AP. "That's clearly not sustainable."
The latest draft rules would offer increased financial value for customers with small rooftop systems, but decrease the value for larger systems that don't meet certain siting criteria as well as for customers wishing to retain ownership of RECs, Autumn Proudlove, a senior policy analyst for NC Clean Energy Technology Center, told Utility Dive.