Quantcast

Are Vt. utilities limiting customers' solar power? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Are Vt. utilities limiting customers' solar power?

Posted: Updated:
EAST MONTPELIER, Vt. -

For Peter Plagge, the sun beating down today is great news for his wallet down the road.

"Those 12 panels were attached last June," he said.

He has a 12 SunCommon solar panels installed on his home and is part of the net metering system. Net metering allows him to get credit for the power he produces.

"Prior to this, I didn't know how to get into it. It was too expensive," Plagge said.

Plagge's story is one state policymakers are thrilled about-- using his own capital to produce clean, renewable energy at home.

"Net metering has been on the books since 1998," said Rep. Tony Klein, D-East Montpelier.

The state says incentives are working with net metering and people are getting on board.

"We're finally getting to the point where these systems are in reach for most any Vermonter," Klein said.

There's just one problem: The electric companies are saying slow down after many customers are zeroing out their bills, getting so much credit back, that they don't have to pay the customer service or efficiency charges.

Vermont utilities are required to credit customers 20 cents for every kilowatt-hour they produce. But they can turn down new renewable energy customers if the company's total net metering surpasses 4 percent of its peak demand. Vermont Electric Cooperative and Hardwick Electric Department are over that limit and stopped accepting anyone else into the net metering program.

"We want to take a breather, back up and make sure the cost for the program, the cost shifting isn't too severe on the whole membership," said Patty Richards, the general manager of the Washington Electric Co-op.

Vermont Electric Cooperative, Washington Electric Co-op and Hardwick Electric Department are concerned the state's net metering policy is shifting costs onto other customers who don't have solar systems and may lead to raising rates.

Richards says of the Washington Electric Co-op's 11,000 members, 172 are on the net metering program. The co-op announced it will limit future solar installations if they exceed 5-kilowatt hours. SunCommon says the average home system is between 6- and 7-kilowatt hours.

"Realistically, the decision by WEC probably eliminates two-thirds of our revenue in that territory," said James Moore of SunCommon.

He says utilities shutting out net metering means SunCommon is putting the brakes on a planned expansion which would have created 50 new jobs.

"This is exactly what the state has asked for-- the utilities need to figure out how to make it work," Moore said.

"It has grown exponentially and that's a good thing. When you have growth, you have problems. And when you have problems, you solve the problems. You don't stop doing what you need to do," Klein said.

The Legislature says this is a top issue for them and will be addressed when they are back in session in January.

Vermont's largest utility, Green Mountain Power, is on board with net metering and offers a premium for the renewable power.

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Police: Men used stolen cards on thousands of dollars in purchases

    Police: Men used stolen cards on thousands of dollars in purchases

    Saturday, August 23 2014 9:48 AM EDT2014-08-23 13:48:46 GMT
    Police in Chittenden County have caught two men from Brooklyn who they say used stolen credit card numbers to buy thousands of dollars worth of stuff.
    Police in Chittenden County have caught two men from Brooklyn who they say used stolen credit card numbers to buy thousands of dollars worth of stuff.
  • Destination Recreation: Clark's Trading Post

    Destination Recreation: Clark's Trading Post

    Saturday, August 23 2014 9:28 AM EDT2014-08-23 13:28:18 GMT
    Clark's Trading Post in Lincoln, New Hampshire has attracted millions of visitors since opening its doors in 1928. While famous for its bear shows, it offers a whole lot more.
    Clark's Trading Post in Lincoln, New Hampshire has attracted millions of visitors since opening its doors in 1928. While famous for its bear shows, it offers a whole lot more.

  • At Issue: Keeping up with kids' vaccinations

    At Issue: Keeping up with kids' vaccinations

    Saturday, August 23 2014 9:21 AM EDT2014-08-23 13:21:43 GMT
    It's about time to send kids back to school, and if you're a parent, chances are you've gotten a note reminding you to make sure your kids are up to date on their vaccinations.
    It's about time to send kids back to school, and if you're a parent, chances are you've gotten a note reminding you to make sure your kids are up to date on their vaccinations.
  • Teaching the notes of tango in Stowe

    Teaching the notes of tango in Stowe

    Saturday, August 23 2014 9:13 AM EDT2014-08-23 13:13:32 GMT
     The hills of Stowe were alive this week with the sound of music -- Argentine Tango music. We sent Cat Viglienzoni to check it out.
     The hills of Stowe were alive this week with the sound of music -- Argentine Tango music. We sent Cat Viglienzoni to check it out.
  • Burglary suspects caught

    Burglary suspects caught

    Saturday, August 23 2014 12:18 AM EDT2014-08-23 04:18:38 GMT
    Vermont State Police nabbed a pair of suspected burglars and believe they're linked to several other crimes.
    Vermont State Police nabbed a pair of suspected burglars and believe they're linked to several other crimes.
  • Sen. Jim Jeffords laid to rest

    Sen. Jim Jeffords laid to rest

    Friday, August 22 2014 8:12 PM EDT2014-08-23 00:12:17 GMT
    Sen. Jim Jeffords was one of Vermont's beloved public servants, with a career that took him from the hills of Shrewsbury to the U.S. Senate. Friday, in his hometown of Rutland, James Jeffords was laid to rest.
    Sen. Jim Jeffords was one of Vermont's beloved public servants, with a career that took him from the hills of Shrewsbury to the U.S. Senate. Friday, in his hometown of Rutland, James Jeffords was laid to rest.
  • Is it safe to move accused killer Elizabeth Teague?

    Is it safe to move accused killer Elizabeth Teague?

    Friday, August 22 2014 7:09 PM EDT2014-08-22 23:09:17 GMT
    The Vt. Dept. of Mental Health says scarce resources are part of the push to relocate alleged workplace shooter Elizabeth Teague to a facility with fewer regulations. Elizabeth Keatinge was at Friday's hearing.
    The Vt. Dept. of Mental Health says scarce resources are part of the push to relocate alleged workplace shooter Elizabeth Teague to a facility with fewer regulations. Elizabeth Keatinge was at Friday's hearing.
  • Police investigate death of 13-year-old in Hardwick

    Police investigate death of 13-year-old in Hardwick

    Friday, August 22 2014 8:10 PM EDT2014-08-23 00:10:40 GMT
    Investigators say a teen was found dead at a home in Hardwick Friday morning.
    Investigators say a teen was found dead at a home in Hardwick Friday morning.
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.