Vt. has new law encouraging small power generation - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. has new law encouraging small power generation

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Governor Peter Shumlin (D-Vermont) signed a new measure into law allowing more Vermonters to cash in on the sun.

Those who operate solar panels say the summer months generate the most electricity, but the best producing days are those that sunny and snow covered.

With his signature, the Governor hopes to improve Vermont's clean energy forecast. Down a dirt road just a few miles from the Statehouse, McKnight farm is home to more than 500 cows.

The dairy's appetite for electricity is immense, but by harvesting the sun with these 416 solar panels its utility bill is tiny.

"At the end of the month, hopefully I've made enough power to run the farm, and I usually do," said Seth Gardner from McKnight Farm.

"He's creating jobs and milk at the same time," said Shumlin.

Tuesday Governor Shumlin signed into law, H.702, a bill allowing Vermonters to send more power back to the grid.

It will allow up to 15 percent of peak electricity demand to come from customers like McKnight farm after hitting the old limit of 4 percent.

Shumlin says that will help the state grow jobs and economic opportunity as well as provide a greener future for Vermont.

"And most importantly make a difference for our planet for future generations," said Shumlin.

Generators like McKnight Farm plug directly into the grid. They are charged for every kilowatt they use and receive credit for what they produce.

That eliminates the need for storage, the most challenging aspect of tapping renewable energy.

"It's easy, it's very affordable and it's very very successful," said Shumlin.

The McKnight Farm's project is one of 36,000 statewide. The panels cost nearly a quarter million dollars to install, which the farm paid for through a grant and loans.

He says they'll pay for themselves after seven years and says expanding net metering will keep the state moooo-ving toward its renewable energy goals.

Some federal tax credits for renewable energy will expire in 2017. The law the Governor signed Tuesday allows for a redesign should that happen.

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