Updated: 3 days ago
You know that it pays to switch to a renewable energy source, but it turns out that solar can save you money in more than one way.
Install solar. Insert plug. Run your house on the power of the sun. Simple, right? Well, if that were the case, you’d only get a fraction of the full benefit of your solar panels. In Vermont, that’s where net metering comes in.
Why We Need Net Metering
The sun has the capacity to provide a ton of energy—enough to continuously run a 25-inch TV on every square inch of the earth and then some. But, in the real world, the hours that the sun is up and the hours when our homes need the most juice don’t always overlap. Think about it—you don’t need all your lights on when there’s plenty of natural light streaming in or when you’re at work. (And on the flip side, ever wonder how much power you used to watch The Office on Netflix until bed?)
Fortunately, Vermont’s net metering system ensures that your wallet sees the full benefit of going solar.
What Is Net Metering?
A solar array produces power (measured in kilowatt-hours, or kWh) during the day. Some of this energy feeds the devices and appliances in your home in real-time. (Even if you’re not home, things like your fridge, computers, or modem still use power.)
But, when the sun is at its peak, your system generates far more kilowatts than you need. With net metering, this energy doesn’t go to waste. It feeds back into the grid, so other folks in your area can run their homes on green energy. Importantly, you get paid the power you supply by the utility company. Your meter counts the kilowatt-hours and your utility company credits your electric bill for the corresponding amount.
Then, when the sun goes down or during times of lower solar production, like winter, the energy you use from the grid is largely or entirely paid for by the credits you’ve accumulated during the day or summer.
Net Metering by State
Net metering rates vary state by state and Vermont’s Public Utility Commission has scheduled some incentive step-downs over 2021. Up to this point, the net metering benefit meant that a solar customer earned more money for what they sold to the grid than the cost of buying electricity. Unfortunately, effective February 2, 2021, this will no longer be the case—it will be a one-to-one exchange. Then, effective September 1, 2021, the electricity a customer sells to the utility will be one cent less than the cost of buying electricity.
But despite the looming decreases, there’s still great value in solar. For starters, we can help you lock in the higher metering rate prior to the deadline by submitting your certificate of public good before these two deadlines. You then have one year from the deadline to complete the project and still take advantage of the higher rate. Your rate is then locked in for 10 years.
“Though there is a [slight?] decrease in the value of solar, which we’re disappointed to see, this does not change the fact that solar still offers value to all home and business owners as a way to take control of their energy costs and offer an ability to pay down their energy bills over the years,” says Paul Lesure, President of Green Mountain Solar.
“This may influence some of the upfront or financing costs, but over the long run, you pay that off in 12 years and you still have 13-plus years of no electric bill. You’re also insulated from future rate changes. And you’re helping the world environmentally speaking, you can’t discount that.”
It’s also worth noting that this is not the only incentive for solar. The biggest solar incentive, the investment tax credit, was recently protected through 2022. Read about that here.
By Julia Westbrook