There’s good news, good news, bad news, and (UPDATE) more good news for some Vermonters who want to participate in generating renewable energy. The good news is very good news: Congress has extended federal tax credits for new renewable energy installations, including solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, and marine power (tidal generators, for instance–see April Fool’s Day post here), with solar and wind credits extending right out to 2020. This means that manufacturers, installers, homeowners, businesses, and communities can move forward with renewable energy plans without worrying whether or not tax credits will apply, and that makes a big difference in the numbers.
Read more about this at http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/renewables-boom-expected-thanks-to-tax-credit
The other good news is that Vermont has added new solar generation capacity so quickly, several Vermont utilities have already met their net metering goals. This is also, unfortunately, the bad news, because it means that under normal circumstances, Green Mountain Power customers wouldn’t be able to add new net-metered solar. That doesn’t mean the power wouldn’t be useful, but it would take away the huge advantage to everyone of making that solar power available through the grid and being paid a price for it that takes into account the additional value of non-fossil fuel generation. However, here’s an UPDATE from Green Mountain Power:
we [have] proposed to the Public Service Board … a limited strategic extension of net metering, and as part of it will continue to allow rooftop solar. We have also proposed having community projects for folks who can’t go solar …
So that’s good news for Green Mountain Power customers. The problem remains, unfortunately, for Vermont Electric Co-op and Hardwick Electric customers, as these two companies have also reached their caps and unlike GMP have not (to the best of my knowledge) made the additional effort to work around the net metering cap. Williston’s electric customers are about evenly split, geographically, between Green Mountain Power in the north part of town and Vermont Electric Co-op in the south part of town.
This problem will continue until net metering caps are raised; let’s hope that’s soon!
Read more about the net metering cap at http://vtdigger.org/2015/11/10/green-mountain-power-poised-to-top-net-metering-cap/.