Net metering is a program instituted by Vermont law that allows members to connect small-scale, renewable energy systems to the grid and receive credit on their electric bills for the power that system generates. The most common type of net metering is for solar, but wind, hydro and methane can also be connected under the net metering program.
Note: The rules for net metering in Vermont changed on 1/1/2017. The information below pertains to applications on or after 1/1/2017. For information on net metering systems installed prior to 2017, please contact 1-800-832-2667.
Installations must receive approval from the Public Utility Commission (PUC). For all systems that are 15 kilowatts (kW) and smaller and rooftop systems of any size, this is a simple application process. For larger ground-mounted systems, the process is more involved. Once you file the application to the PUC, your application is deemed approved – provided no one intervenes to challenge the project – after a set period of time. The period is 10 business days for systems 15 kW and smaller and 30 calendar days for systems larger than 15 kW.
Click here for the net metering registration form for all systems 15 kW and smaller and rooftop systems 500 kW and smaller.
Click here for the net metering application for ground-mounted systems larger than 15 kW up to and including 50 kW.
Click here for a checklist for ground-mounted projects larger than 50 kW.
The first step is to select an installer. VEC does not offer recommendations for specific installers, but we do suggest that you do some research and consider asking neighbors or others in your community for recommendations. VEC often recommends asking for more than one quote to compare prices.
The installer you choose will typically file the net metering registration on your behalf. After the application waiting period has passed, you will have the right to install the system.
After the system has been installed, you or the installer will contact VEC to request a solar production meter, which tracks how many kilowatt-hours the system produces. VEC will install this meter within five business days. Once your system is online and producing energy, the net metering credit will appear on your bill.
There is no cap on the number of systems that can come online. Therefore, no one will be barred from participating unless their application is denied.
For excess energy sent back to the grid, net metering members will receive the statewide blended residential rate, currently $.15417 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). For systems 15 kW and smaller, members will receive an additional one cent per kWh for every kWh produced for 10 years.
In addition, members who transfer the Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) associated with their projects to VEC will receive an additional one cent per kWh for every kWh produced for 10 years. Members who keep the RECs will be charged three cents per kWh for every kWh produced for the life of the system. (See explanation of RECs below).
Therefore, for systems 15 kW and smaller where the member transfers the RECs to VEC, the initial rate of compensation will be $.17417 per kWh (.15417 + .01 + .01).
RECs are the claim to the renewability of the power a system generates. Applicants for net metering projects must decide whether or not they want to "retain ownership of any environmental attributes associated with the system,” ie retain the RECs associated with the system.
If you choose to retain the RECs, you will be charged three cents per kilowatt-hour for the energy the system produces. If you choose to not retain the RECs, you will be transferring the RECs to VEC, and will receive an additional one cent per kilowatt-hour for the energy the system produces.
Your installer should be familiar with the credit difference. Once you choose how you want to handle the RECs, you will not be able to change your decision, according to the PUC's Rule 5.100 - Rule Pertaining to Construction and Operation of Net-Metering Systems.
Most applicants since 2017 have chosen "no" on their applications in order to receive higher credit.
Under Vermont law, utilities cannot resell net metering RECs, so your RECs will stay in Vermont. VEC will use them to help comply with Vermont’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES).
You will see the appropriate credit on your monthly bill. The customer charge and energy efficiency charge are considered “non-bypassable,” meaning that net metering credits cannot be used to pay them. Net metering participants must still pay these two charges.
Credits will remain on account for 12 months to be applied to future bills. If a credit is not used within 12 months of the time it’s generated, it will expire.
Members have the option of setting up a group to transfer credits to another account on VEC’s system. These credits must be transferred prospectively, meaning they can be transferred only at the time they are generated. They may not be transferred at the time that they would expire.
A VEC representative is available to work with members on the process for setting up a net metering group.
There is a one-time account set-up charge. That charge depends on how many accounts are involved, and they are as follows:
- Single-member systems and groups up to three accounts: $28.50
- Group systems with four to 15 accounts: $57
- Group systems with greater than 15 accounts: $114
VEC also charges for the installation of the second meter, which tracks the kWh generated. Currently, that charge is $164.28 for the meter and $55 for installation, both one-time charges.
No. Pre-2017 systems will continue to receive their current compensation for 10 years from the time the system was commissioned. After that, the systems will be subject to the statewide blended rate for excess generation and will be required to pay the non-bypassable charges identified in the PUC order.