Net metering is a program instituted by Vermont law that allows members to connect small-scale renewable energy systems to the grid and receive credit on their electric bills. The most common type of net metering is solar, but wind, hydro and methane can also be used under the net metering program.
The rules for how net metering works in Vermont changed for 2017. The information below pertains to the 2017 program. For information on net metering systems installed prior to 2017, please contact 1-800-832-2667.
How and when can I apply?
In order to install a grid-connected solar array, you need something called a Certificate of Public Good (CPG). For projects 15 kilowatts and smaller, this is a simple application process. Once the application has been filed with the Public Service Board (PSB) (and you’ve sent copies to your utility and the Department of Public Service), you’ll be able to install the system after 10 business days have passed, provided that no one intervenes to challenge your application.
You submit your application to the Public Service Board. They will begin accepting applications for 2017 systems starting January 1, 2017.
How much space is available in the program? Will I get in?
Unlike the program prior to 2017, there is no longer a limit to how many systems can come online, and therefore no one will be shut out unless the PSB order changes or the application is denied.
How will I be compensated for the energy my system produces?
For excess energy sent back to the grid, net metering members will receive the statewide blended residential rate, which is currently $.14919 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). For systems 15 kilowatts (kW) and smaller, members will receive another 1 cent per kWh for every kWh produced for 10 years.
Members will have the choice of whether to transfer the Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) to VEC or to keep them (for more information about RECs, please see the Renewable Energy Certificates Q&A). Members who transfer the RECs will receive an additional 3 cents per kWh for every kWh produced for 10 years. Members who keep the RECs will be deducted 3 cents per kWh for every kWh produced for the life of the system.
Therefore, for systems 15 kW and smaller where the member transfers the RECs to VEC, the initial rate of compensation will be about 19 cents per kWh (.14919 + .01 + .03).
How will these credits be applied to my bills?
Starting in 2017, net metering credits can longer offset all charges on members’ electric bills. Certain charges are considered “non-bypassable,” meaning that they must be paid by the member each month. These charges include the customer and energy efficiency charges.
Credits will remain on the account for 12 months to be applied to future bills. If a credit is not used within 12 months of the time it’s generated, it will expire.
How can I use excess credits?
Members have the option of setting up a group to transfer some amount of credits to another account on VEC’s system. According to the new PSB order, these credits must be transferred prospectively, meaning at the time they are generated rather than at the time that they would expire.
A VEC representative is available to work with members on the process for setting up a net metering group.
Are there any additional fees or charges for net metering?
There is a one-time charge to set up the account for net metering. That charge depends on how many accounts are involved, and they are as follows:
- Single member systems and groups up to 3 accounts: $28.50
- Group systems with 4 to 15 accounts: $57.00
- Group systems with greater than 15 accounts: $114.00
VEC also charges for the installation of the second meter, which tracks the kWh generated and is now required for the 2017 net metering program. Currently, that charge is $164.28 for the meter and $55 for installation, which are both one-time charges.
I already have a net metering system. Am I affected by the 2017 changes?
These changes do not impact systems that received a CPG prior to January 1, 2017. Those systems will continue to receive their current compensation for 10 years from the time their system was commissioned. After that, the systems would be subject to the statewide blended rate for excess generation and would be required to pay the nonbypassable charges identified in the PSB order.