Vermont Enacts Feed-in Tariff, Adopts Net Metering Rules

VERMONTThe Vermont Energy Act, (H.B. 446) which was passed in May 2009 without Governor Douglas’ signature, included a provision for a Feed-in Tariff (FIT). The bill requires all Vermont retail electricity providers to purchase electricity generated by eligible renewable energy facilities through the Sustainably Priced Energy Enterprise Development (SPEED) Program via long-term contracts with fixed standard offer rates. Eligible renewable energy facilities are qualifying SPEED resources including solar, wind, biomass, and hydropower (up to 2.2 MW), commissioned on or after September 30, 2009. Eligible wood biomass resources may only receive the standard offer if the plant’s system efficiency is at least 50%. The long-term contracts should be between 10-25 years for solar and 10-20 years for all other technologies. As a condition of the standard offer, the renewable energy credits (RECs) generated by eligible facilities are transferred to the retail electric provider that purchases the power from the renewable energy facility, except in the case of a facility using methane from agricultural operations.

The proposed rates for the FIT are as follows: $0.30 for Solar; $0.20 for wind with rated capacity of 15 kW or less; $0.12 for methane derived from landfill or agricultural operation; and the Average Residential Retail Rate for Wind with capacity greater than 15 kW,

hydropower, and biomass (except methane from landfill or agricultural operation). These rates are subject to change; however, as the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) must conduct an economic analysis to either concur or adjust the rates based on criteria set-forth in the law. The state’s net metering rules will also need to be re-examined to determine the interaction between these two policies.

Additionally, proposed amendments to net metering rule 5.100 became effective April 15, 2009. These rules increased the system capacity limit to 250 kW and included micro-CHP systems up to 20 kW as an eligible system type. Amendments also revised existing rules for Group net metering and removed all references to ‘farm’ systems. Previously only farm systems were allowed to net meter facilities up to 150 kW but now that net metering is allowed for systems up to 250 kW, this distinction is apparently no longer necessary.

The rule defines “Group” net metering as “a group of customers, or a single customer with multiple electric meters, located within the same electric company service territory, where the customers have elected to combine meters as a single billing entity in order to offset that billing against a net metered system.” In order to set up such a net metering system, the group must file with the PSB and other relevant parties, the following information:

  • Which meters will be implicated;
  • Method for adding/removing meters;
  • Contact person responsible for communications and aggregate bill; and
  • A dispute resolution process.

The utility is required to issue a single aggregate monthly bill to the contact person and therefore allocation of NEG credits among group members is the responsibility of the group. In cases of non-payment of group system bills, the utility is authorized to disconnect all meters associated with the group system.

 

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