Vermonters want us to do our part to combat climate change – but our current solar program has Vermont taking a big step in the wrong direction. In January 2017, the Public Utilities Commission changed the statewide solar program (net metering). Under the first year of the program the amount of solar permitted dropped by 50%.
Mid-scale (150-500kW) solar project capacity dropped 73%
Small-scale (15-150kW) solar project capacity dropped 35%
Residential scale solar project capacity dropped 19%
The solar trades are resilient, but shrinking volume leads to fewer local jobs, lost local economic investment, less action and innovation on climate solutions. The new 2017 net metering rule reduced the state solar rate for home owners by 10% and up to a 45% drop for larger net metered solar projects. Adding to the challenge Vermonters are facing, the price of solar panels increased 30% due to President Trump’s solar tax.
It’s time to get back on track.
Vermonters have the right to produce local, clean energy for themselves – and any further drop in the state’s solar rates will jeopardize that. It’s imperative that the PUC not make it harder for Vermonters to go solar and expedite projects that have preferred status such as parking lot canopies.
Our state solar program must ensure every Vermonter has access to solar power. The majority of Vermont homes and businesses can’t host solar onsite, yet today’s program offers little opportunity for community, or shared, solar arrays. Our legislators should restore community solar for renters, homeowners, and all the downtown, village businesses that rely on that option.
You can submit comments to the PUC via the Commission’s Clerk at: firstname.lastname@example.org. The PUC is reviewing our state’s solar program now. The public comment period is open from February 1 to March 15th., 2018.