Renewable Energy Vermont Executive Director Olivia Campbell Andersen introduces solar customers and workers concerned about the net metering rule Thursday in front of the State House in Montpelier. REV photos.
by Renewable Energy Vermont The Public Service Board (PSB) held its final public hearings on the proposed net metering rule on Thursday morning in Montpelier. Prior to Thursday's hearing, dozens of solar customers and workers gathered on the statehouse lawn to urge the Board to draft a rule that maintains a strong net metering program which allows homes, businesses, farms, and non-profits to continue to harness the power of their own energy.
Speakers expressed their hope that Vermont will continue to embrace a renewable energy future with a net metering rule that encourages Vermont homeowners, farms, schools, towns, and businesses to choose affordable renewable energy on their own property or with their neighbors as part of a community project.
Since the acceleration of net metering, Vermont electric rates remain among the lowest in New England and have stabilized, or gone down. Net metering provides all ratepayers benefits from summer peak shaving, reducing transmission losses, increasing the renewable mix of the local electric grid, and, according to VELCO, along with efficiency, has contributed to over $250 million in delayed large scale transmission upgrades financed by ratepayers.
Tim Shea, a Montpelier resident and solar customer, explained, "The ability to net meter made going solar at my home and participating in a solar CSA possible for me. I am so glad to have these opportunities, and I want all Vermonters to be able to have these same opportunities."
Bill Suhr of Champlain Orchards expresses his hope for Vermont's renewable energy future.
The group voiced support for a proposed rule that enhances the State's commitment to help Vermonters increase their self-reliance, decrease dependence on foreign oil, gas and out of state energy. Bill Suhr of Champlain Orchards stated, "We believe that becoming self-sufficient with renewable energy is a healthy goal for Vermont to achieve, and we must ensure that regulations allow for Vermonters to participate in this goal."
Charity Carbine-March, director of SunCommon's Community Solar Program, noted, "the proposed net metering rates will make it harder for hundreds of Vermonters to take part in our clean energy movement as the economics of building arrays and participating in them becomes less financially viable."
Dan Kinney of Catamount Solar, which is an employee-owned company, was dismayed by the "solarcoaster" that Vermonters are trying to ride at the present time, and he expressed hope that the new rule would smooth things out. "We need predictability so that Vermonters can plan to use solar power and so we can build our business and pay our employees well. We are proud to have these jobs - we want to help Vermont move to a clean energy future. To ensure these good jobs and that clean energy future, we must have regulations that are predictable and fair."
The PSB is accepting comments on the proposed rule until May 12th. Information can be found here: http://psb.vermont.gov/statutesrulesandguidelines/proposedrules/rule51002013