VT Digger: Issue of sustaining net metering projects beyond 4 percent cap generates legal debate

Jul 25, 2013 1 Comment by

Reposted from the VT Digger. By Andrew Stein. July 24, 2013.

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The question of whether some rural utilities should finance small renewable energy projects has taken a nosedive into the realm of legal ambiguity.

The issue stems from a law that requires utilities to credit customers 20 cents for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) they produce through small renewable energy systems, or net metering systems. According to the law, however, a utility does not have to accept applications for these systems when the capacity of a utility’s total net metering surpasses 4 percent of its peak demand from the previous year, or from 1996, whichever is greater.

The question now being raised is whether a utility can continue to reimburse customers at a higher rate, after hitting the 4 percent threshold.

“The utility who is going above the 4 percent cap voluntarily is taking some risk,” Geoff Commons, director of Public Advocacy for the Department of Public Service, told utility executives last week. “The statute does provide a very specific and clear mechanism for raising the 4 percent cap, and it is silent on the question of whether a utility can go over it. I think it’s a risk for a utility. Legally, I think it is ambiguous.”

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One Response to “VT Digger: Issue of sustaining net metering projects beyond 4 percent cap generates legal debate”

  1. This Week: Solarfest Recap, Net-Metering, Solar Explosion, Wind Noise & More… | Vermont News says:

    […] best way for those living in an utility area that has met its net-metering cap to participate. VEC, Hardwick Electric, and Washington Electric Coop have all met their 4% limit on net-metered gene…. Whether those utilities will be continuing to offer net-metering and pay the additional solar […]

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