Last month, The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) announced big wins for solar in Washington and Utah. In Washington, utility-backed anti-competition legislation that would have given utilities monopoly control over the existing rooftop solar market died at the end of the session in March. In Utah, bill language that would have changed net metering was removed from the final legislation in favor of a study to look at the value of distributed solar. Now, Vermont is the latest state to join a list that’s quickly proving how far support for solar extends. On Tuesday, Governor Peter Shumlin signed into law a bill to increase the cap on net metering from 4% to 15% of the utility’s peak load.
Net metering allows customers with on-site solar to use the clean energy they produce immediately in their home, and then receive full retail credit for any surplus electricity sent back to the grid. Utilities turn around and sell this electricity to neighboring homes and businesses. Vermont’s net metering expansion essentially quadruples the pre-existing cap, acknowledging the importance of net metering and the benefits it provides to all ratepayers.
Vermont has always had a strong green reputation, but this win puts the state even more in the spotlight. While many utilities across the country are attacking net metering — see examples here and here — Vermont’s largest utility supported the net metering cap expansion bill, H. 702. Green Mountain Power’s CEO, Mary Powell, affirmed in a recent news article that net metered solar benefits everyone:
“I think having a cap is a huge problem. There should be no cap,” Powell said. “We should figure out how to adapt to this new future that is here and is what our customers want.”
“Vermont’s decision sends the clear message that rooftop solar delivers benefits to utilities, the grid, and all ratepayers,” said Bryan Miller President of TASC and VP of Public Policy for Sunrun. “We commend the Vermont Legislature for its leadership in expanding access to net metering.”
The win in Vermont is the third in 2014 and the 9th consecutive win for solar energy since January 2013. The results are undeniable. People want solar and they’re willing to fight for it. And utilities can see the benefits too, when they stop grasping hopelessly at their antiquated monopolies.
Image: Vermont via Shutterstock