Renewable Energy Vermont and the Vermont State Legislature
Renewable Energy Vermont is the only organization dedicated solely to working toward increased, affordable, and comprehensive renewable energy use in Vermont. We are increasingly finding partners across the political and environmental spectrum that share our mission and want to join us at the Statehouse and in regulatory forums to fight for sustainable energy legislation. One part of our work is to ensure that Vermont enacts policies and legislation that promote renewable energy (RE) and energy efficiency (EE).
For Immediate Release: March 14, 2014
Renewable Energy Vermont Press Statement regarding Senate Vote on Net-Meteri
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Renewable Energy Vermont’s 2014 Legislative Priorities
Open Net-Metering Opportunities for All Vermonters
Problem: A number of Vermont utilities have hit the statutory net metering requirement of 4% and have stopped allowing Vermonters to generate their own clean electricity. More than 15% of Vermonters are negatively impacted as well as businesses, towns, schools, and local non-profits.
Solution: Re-open Vermont’s successful net-metering program to allow all Vermonters to participate. Net-metered clean energy should be allowed to meet at least 15% of any utility’s peak capacity which equals roughly 5% of their total electricity sales and the successful simplified solar registration program should be expanded to 15kW.
Allow more efficient solar system design with a change to the AC/DC calculation for net metering projects
Problem: The size of a net metered solar system is currently being calculated based on Direct Current (“DC”) capacity, which is different from all other solar projects. Instead, an outdated and arbitrary de-rate factor of 95% is used to convert DC power to Alternating Current (“AC”) power. This 95% factor is based on research conducted in 1999. Advances in panel technology and production means that this 95% de-rate factor results in the loss of more than 10% of the available energy production for any given solar array layout. A technical change would allow for more efficient project design based on a project’s AC inverter capacity and would also ensure that utilities, the Public Service Department and the Public Service Board are all tracking net metered generation in a consistent manner.
Solution: All solar projects should be determined by the AC nameplate rating on the inverter. We are seeking this technical fix in the net metering bill.
Achieve Predictability, Simplicity, and Fairness with Solar Property Taxation
Problem: Act 127 established a uniform capacity tax on solar of $4/kW for the state education tax, but it inadvertently created confusion at the local level for municipal taxation. Local listers and town select boards are grappling with how to tax solar projects at the local level and different towns are considering vastly different approaches. Even the Sandia model, which was suggested by the State Tax Department as one way for municipalities to address this issue, produces considerably different results for different towns. This has created uncertainty in the market and stalled good projects.
Solution: 1) Exempt small-scale net metered systems under 150kW AC in capacity and continue to tax all larger systems. All underlying land remains taxed at full value. 2) For all larger systems greater than 150kW AC, impose a uniform $8/kW solar capacity tax administered by the Department of Taxes, with $4/kW going to the local municipality. This clearly understood rate will result in a much more financeable approach and also free the municipality from the burden of calculating and collecting the solar tax every year. All underlying land would remain taxed at full value. 3) Remove the sunset in order to eliminate the tax uncertainty faced by current and potential solar owners. The future study on this issue can remain in place.
Identify a long-term funding source for the successful Clean Energy Development Fund
Problem: The Clean Energy Development Fund (CEDF) requires annual appropriations since it was moved to the General Fund from funding through Vermont Yankee’s payments. This fund has supported countless renewable initiatives, evolving annually to foster a growing in-state industry and effectively leveraging private capital investments.
Solution: Identify a long-term funding source for Vermont clean energy projects and industry expansion. Near term funding does have a temporary “fix” proposed through settlement funds with Vermont Yankee.
Thanks to the REV 2014 Policy Team for their efforts in testimony, bill review and advocating for a more renewable future.
Dinse Knapp McAndrew
Dunkiel Saunders Elliot Raubvogel & Hand PLLC
Georgia Mountain Community Wind
Green Lantern Capital
Green Peak Solar
Leslie A. Cadwell
Novus Energy Development, LLC
Pomerleau Real Estate
Real Goods Solar
Renewable NRG Systems
REV is always interested in having new businesses join our Policy Team – let REV staff know if you are interested in participating in this critical REV effort