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 connected 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 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 Utility Commission (PUC) (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 apply to the PUC. Click here to access the net metering registration form for all systems 15 kW and smaller and roofmounted systems 500 kW and smaller.

What is the process to get started with net metering?

First, determine who you would like to use as an installer. Many installers work in VEC's service territory. We often recommend asking for more than one quote to compare prices. VEC does not recommend specific installers, but we do recommend that you do your research and consider asking neighbors or others in your community for recommendations.

Next, the installer will typically file the net metering registration on your behalf (see more detail above). 

Ten days after the application is filed with the PUC, you will have the right to install the system. Your installer will schedule a time with you based on their work schedule.

After the system has been installed, you or the installer will put in a request for VEC to install the production meter, which keeps track of how many kilowatt-hours the system is producing. There is a one-time charge of $164.28 for that meter. VEC will install this meter within five business days of receiving this request.

Once your system is online and producing energy, the net metering credit will be reflected on your bill.

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 PUC 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, see below). 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).

What are Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and what do they mean to me?

The final question on the net metering application asks whether the applicant elects to "retain ownership of any environmental attributes associated with the system." This question pertains to the Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). Legally, RECs are the claim to the renewability of the power your system generates. For larger generators like wind farms, hydro dams, or large-scale solar, RECs are often sold separately from the energy itself. Utilities, and others like businesses and institutions, can use RECs to meet renewable standards or make renewable claims (eg "We get 100% of our electricity from renewable power.").  

If you choose "yes" on your application, then you will retain the RECs and you will be charged three cents per kilowatt-hour for the energy the system produces. If you choose "no," then you will transfer the RECs to VEC and you will receive a credit of three cents per kilowatt-hour for the energy the system produces.

Your installer should be familiar with the credit difference and discuss this with you. Once the determination is made, you will not be able to change it according to the PUC's Rule 5.100 - Rule Pertaining to Construction and Operation of Net-Metering Systems.

Most applicants in 2017 have chosen "no" in order to receive the higher credit.

VEC retires the RECs in order to comply with Vermont's Renewable Energy Standard (RES). Under Vermont law, utilities cannot sell net metering RECs that have been transferred to them, so your RECs will stay in Vermont with the co-op.

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 PUC order.