By Gaelan Brown
For about a year a group of Vermonters have been laying the ground-work for a cooperatively owned solar power system to be located in the Mad River Valley. This concept is otherwise known as “group net metering”. The Mad River Valley Energy Network is now moving forward to setup an organization in which any Green Mountain Power customer could own a share of a solar PV installation, while having their share of the monthly power-production automatically credited to their GMP bill.
Our MRVE group did quite a bit of citizen-lobbying in Montpelier, with help from local VT Rep Adam Greshin and other legislators, to get changes made to the utility-laws to enable this to all happen. And Sugarbush is graciously offering to give us a free-lease on a large parcel of land for the project. We’re engaged with a legal firm to setup the “company,” hoping to be installing the first phase of the system (150kw to 250kw) in the spring/summer of 2012.
We have setup a website to help everyone understand how it will work and where people can also sign up to get alerts as the project moves to the next steps. www.mrve.net
There are many advantages to a group-net-metering project over installing a small-scale PV system on your property:
- The system can have ideal tilt/positioning to maximize power production, along with a lower installed cost per watt due to economies of scale.
- The age/condition of your roof or property does not matter.
- You don’t have to invest $20k for a typical household PV system, you can start with a smaller investment, or you can go large, depending on your power needs and budget. The minimum investment-level to participate may be as low as $1000.
- Your share of ownership of the project is 100% transferable (if you sell your home or move, the monthly power-credits can stay credited to your home or you can take your credits with you if you are moving to another location in GMP territory).
- It’s not in your backyard, or anyone else’s backyard, but it makes your property more valuable because of the energy value coming to you each month.
- The location we have available is not in anyone’s direct view-shed and does not reduce local available farm-land. It’ll be located on a new septic-leach-field that has few other potential uses. Sheep-grazing in and around a solar-farm is a potential way to get additional value and ag-use out of a solar-farm, while also reducing maintenance costs to the group.
- You’ll still benefit from any and all government incentives and tax-credits.
- Anyone in Vermont who is on GMP could be part of this group.