The Washington Electric Cooperative, a small utility in Vermont, has announced that it will set limits on net metering systems. That has raised concerns from advocacy groups who say such a move could discourage development of solar installations.
More Vermonters are installing solar panels in their homes and businesses. Net metering allows utility customers to feed excess energy back to the electric grid and subtract the amount of energy from their “net metered” bill.
To encourage development of renewable power, the Vermont Legislature has mandated that utilities accept net metering up to 4 percent of their peak demand. But on Tuesday, the Washington Electric Cooperative became the second small utility in the state to limit net metering systems after exceeding the cap. Co-op Board President Barry Bernstein says it has invested more than 20 million dollars into renewable energy generation including hydro and wind, creating a primarily non-fossil fuel energy production portfolio. Bernstein explains that the cooperative has supported net metering, but is currently at six percent , or two percent above the state cap.
Renewable Energy Vermont Executive Director Gabrielle Stebbins cites reports that show Vermont is now 11th in the nation per capita in the creation of jobs in the solar industry. While Washington Electric is a small utility, she feels its decision has broad repercussions.
Vermont Public Interest Research Group Clean Energy Advocate Ben Walsh.
Vermont Natural Resources Council Energy Program Director Johanna Miller says the state legislature needs to find a long term solution that excludes arbitrary caps on net metering systems.
Hardwick Electric stopped accepting new net metering customers in June.