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 net metering 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 to apply to the Public Utility Commission (PUC).  For all systems that are 15 kilowatts and smaller and rooftop systems of any size, this is a simple application process. Once the application has been filed with the PUC, you’ll be able to install the system after a proscribed time period has passed provided that no one intervenes to challenge your application. The waiting period is 10 business days for systems 15 kilowatts and smaller and 30 calendar days for systems larger than that. Click here to access the net metering registration form for all systems 15 kW and smaller and rooftop 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 offer recommendations for specific installers, but we do suggest 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 at the link above). 

After the application waiting period (see above), you will have the right to install the system. Your installer will schedule a time with you.

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. 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 appear on your bill.

 
How much space is available in the program?

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 one 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 three cents per kWh for every kWh produced for 10 years. Members who keep the RECs will be deducted three 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 "100 percent of our electricity is renewable.") 

If you choose "yes" on your application, you will retain the RECs and be charged three cents per kilowatt-hour for the energy the system produces. If you choose "no," you will transfer the RECs to VEC and 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, so your RECs will stay in Vermont with VEC.

 
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 2017 PUC order, these credits must be transferred prospectively, meaning they can be transferred  only at the time they are generated. They may not be transferred 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 three accounts: $28.50
  • Group systems with four to 15 accounts: $57
  • Group systems with greater than 15 accounts: $114

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 with applications approved prior to January 1, 2017. Those systems will continue to receive their current compensation for 10 years from the time the system was commissioned. After that, the systems will be subject to the statewide blended rate for excess generation and will  be required to pay the non-bypassable charges identified in the PUC order.