“Renewable energy” is defined as “energy produced using a technology that relies on a resource that is being consumed at a harvest rate at or below its natural regeneration rate.” Biogas from sewage-treatment plants and landfills, and anaerobic digestion of agricultural products, byproducts and wastes are explicitly included. (The term "renewable energy" explicitly excludes solid waste that is not agricultural or silvicultural, as well as nuclear fuel, coal, oil, propane, and natural gas.)
System Capacity Limit
Net metering is generally available to systems up to 500 kW in capacity that generate electricity using eligible renewable energy resources, including combined heat and power (CHP) systems that use biomass. CHP systems that use a non-renewable fuel are limited to 20 kW and must meet an efficiency standard. Renewable energy facilities established on military property for on-site military consumption may net meter for systems up to 2.2 megawatts (MW, AC).
Aggregate Capacity Limit
Net metering is available on a first-come, first-served basis until the cumulative capacity of net-metered systems equals 15% of a utility’s peak demand during 1996 or the peak demand during the most recent full calendar year, whichever is greater.
Net Excess Generation
Renewable energy facilities on military installations do not affect the cap. Any customer net excess generation (NEG) is carried over to the customer’s next bill. Any NEG shall be used within twelve months of the month earned; if not, it is granted to the utility with no compensation for the customer. Net metering is also available under a time-of-use metering arrangement.
Renewable Energy Credit Ownership
Beginning January 1, 2017, the utility owns the renewable energy credits (RECs) generated by a customer's net-metered system, unless the customer elects not to transfer ownership of these RECs at the time of application. Until 2017, net-metered customers retain default ownership of RECs unless the customer elects to transfer ownership to the utility.
Utilities may require a customer to comply with generation interconnection, safety and reliability requirements, as determined by the PSB, and may charge reasonable fees for interconnection, establishment, special metering, meter reading, accounting, account correcting, and account maintenance of net-metered systems greater than 15 kW in capacity. (Interconnection requirements for systems 150 kW or less are accessible at the program website listed above. Interconnection requirements for systems greater than 150 kW must follow the interconnection procedures specified in PSB Rule 5.500).
Utilities must offer additional credits or incentives to net metering customers using solar energy, above and beyond the benefits provided by net metering itself. The additional credit amount is a per-kilowatt-hour (kWh) adder, minus the residential rate per kWh charged by the company. For solar net metered systems of 15 kW or less, the adder is $0.20. For systems larger than 15 kW, the adder is $0.19. Customers will receive the adder, at the rate available at the time the system is connected, for 10 years. After 10 years, the customer will receive the retail rate.
For example, if the highest residential rate charged by a utility is $0.15 per kWh, then the additional credit offered for 10 kW PV system will be $0.05 per kWh. If the highest residential rate charged by a utility is $0.22 per kWh, then no credit will be offered. The solar net metered customer will receive the credit stipulated in the rate schedule for a period of at least ten years. All solar net metered customers are eligible, regardless of rate class.
Group Net Metering
Vermont also allows “group net metering." In order to set up such a net metering system, the group must file with the PSB and other relevant parties, the following information:
- The customers and meters that are to be included as part of the group;
- The method for adding/removing meters and information regarding credit allocation to each customer-meter;
- The contact person responsible for communications, but not those related to billing, payment, or disconnect; and
- A dispute resolution process.
The utility is required to bill all customers of the group individually.
Legislation passed in 2014 creates a process to result in the establishment of a revised net metering program by January 1, 2017. Specifically, the legislation required the Department of Public Service to prepare a report by October 1, 2014, evaluating the current state of net metering in Vermont. This report is available here. The PSB must follow up this report with one or more workshops involving interested parties, and finally, a rulemaking process.
Additionally, as per H.B. 40 of 2015 and effective January 1, 2017, if a net metering customer elects to retain REC ownership, the value of the credit provided for electricity generated by the customer's system will be reduced by an "appropriate amount."