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Help Keep Solar Affordable and Accessible!

Your voice is needed to support an important clean energy program by May 12.

The Public Service Board (PSB) is drafting a new rule to update Vermont’s net metering program. This program has made it possible for homeowners of all incomes, schools, municipalities, churches, businesses and others to enjoy stable, affordable, clean energy.

The PSB recently issued its latest draft of proposed changes to the program – and they are asking Vermonters to weigh in. This is a critical opportunity for you to support small-scale, distributed renewable energy in Vermont.

Can you make your voice heard at one of the two public hearings next week – or send written comments to the PSB by May 12?

Here are the details:

  • Submit written comments to the PSB by May 12. Public comments may be filed with the clerk of the Public Service Board at clerk@vermont.gov.  Please write “Proposed Rule 5.100” in the subject line.

In many ways, the most recent revised rule is an improvement over earlier versions. That said, several significant issues remain and, if not addressed, could undermine the success of this important program. Can you weigh in and ensure that Vermont continues to have a strong net metering program that supports the development of affordable, clean, well-sited projects?

We offer our thoughts on the current draft below.

What we like in the current draft of the proposed rule:

  • It rewards projects on the built environment, such as landfills, brownfields, and locations identified by municipalities. (Unfortunately, however, the incentives are not strong enough to actually get projects built on some of these locations, such as landfills and parking lots, since they often cost far more. This must be fixed.)
  • It no longer includes a grid service fee. A former version of the rule – and a lingering concern – is the inclusion of a new monthly fee for the right to go renewable. This fee is not in the new rule, and we must make sure it stays out, as it would drive up the cost of net metering and drive down participation.

Our concerns with the rule currently under consideration include:

  • The grandfathering provision. As written, it remains unclear how the new program would treat systems Vermonters have invested in under today’s rules. The Board rewrote the section in an attempt to ensure that current customers are “grandfathered in” and not adversely affected by any changes. Unfortunately, the language is still ambiguous. The Board should be crystal clear that Vermont is keeping its commitment to people who have already gone renewable, and isn’t changing the rules they’re operating under.
  • The rate design. The current credit levels in the proposal will make it harder to build group solar arrays, limiting options for the majority of Vermonters who don’t have a suitable roof or yard to develop a project on their own property – or who rent. The PSB should reconsider the proposed rates and make sure the new program continues to provide a clear path for these customers and the group solar arrays they have available to them.
  • A financial penalty for retaining the environmental attributes of a project (the Renewable Energy Certificates or RECs). The new rule shouldn’t penalize – and, instead, should find a reasonable way to reward – net metering customers who retire their RECs in Vermont. These customers provide a real benefit to Vermont and the rule should more fairly reflect that.

VNRC will be submitting comments to the Board asking them to address these and other issues – but we need to make sure they hear from Vermonters like yourself who want to see the net metering program remain strong.

Hope to see you at one of the public hearings – and don’t forget to weigh in with public comments to the PSB by May 12.

Thanks for all you do!

Johanna Miller, Energy and Climate Action Program Director