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Vermont Public Utility Commission Seeks Input to Facilitate the Review of Net-Metering Projects

The Vermont Public Utility Commission opened a proceeding to consider ways to facilitate the review of net-metering systems, including net-metered solar projects. The goal is part of the Commission’s ongoing effort to clarify and streamline the review process wherever possible, while also ensuring that the Commission and all stakeholders can review the potential impacts of a project before the Commission determines whether a project serves the public good.

In this proceeding, the Commission is looking at possible revisions to Commission Rule 5.100, which governs the construction and operation of net-metering projects in Vermont. The program provides netmetering customers with credit on their electric bills for the output of small, renewable electric generation facilities. Although net-metering projects can include hydroelectric and small wind projects, most netmetering systems in Vermont are solar installations (either rooftop or ground-mounted) of up to 500 kW.

Since 2014, the Vermont General Assembly has tasked the Commission with designing and implementing a net-metering program that advances the State’s greenhouse-gas-reduction goals and total renewable energy targets in a way that balances the pace of deployment with the impact on electric rates. The current Net-Metering Rule went into effect in July of 2017. Since then, the Commission has learned of changes and clarifications that would improve the program.

Several of these changes are the result of written comments and a workshop held with stakeholders on potential updates to the Rule’s definition of “preferred sites.” The Commission is looking for additional feedback on this and other proposed changes to the Rule, including:

– Simplifying the process for amending and transferring Certificates of Public Good;

– Simplifying the process for resolving a utility’s concerns about interconnecting a project;

– Simplifying the process for reviewing solar canopies over existing parking lots;

– Clarifying how a project’s impacts on forested areas will be reviewed;

– Allowing two years for a permitted project to be constructed instead of one; and

– Any other matter that stakeholders identify as the proceeding moves forward.

“We think our current Rule provides helpful guidance, but there is always room for improvement,” said Commission Chair Anthony Z. Roisman. “We encourage broad participation in this process to help us make the net-metering program work better for all Vermonters.”

The Commission will schedule workshops and seek written filings from all interested parties. This process will eventually lead to a formal rulemaking and filing of a draft rule with the Secretary of State.

The April 16, 2019, Order opening this rulemaking proceeding can be found by searching for Case No. 19-0855-RULE on ePUC, the Commission’s online document-management system.

For more information, contact: PUC Staff Attorney Jake Marren, 802-828-2358, jake.marren@vermont.gov.

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