Vermont is a Northeastern state that gets an average of roughly 4 kilowatt hours per-square-meter of sunlight per day. While the state doesn’t have the solar resources of Arizona or California, it is making sound investments to become an energy independent state and is focusing on offering incentives to promote its renewable resources, which include solar and biomass.
The state offers residents numerous measures to help them become energy independent, including grants, state rebates, low-interest rate loans, tax incentives (including a 100 percent sales tax exemption) and net metering programs. These incentives are encouraging Vermonters to install photovoltaics (PVs) and other renewable energy sources on their homes or small businesses. The state also allows municipalities to create Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs to help finance renewable energy installations.
Vermont has a renewable energy goal of 20 percent by 2017. The goal is part of the state’s Sustainably Priced Energy Enterprise Development (SPEED) Program. While SPEED is not technically a renewable portfolio standard, if the Vermont Public Service Board finds that the state’s 19 utilities are not meeting the program’s goals, then a renewable portfolio standard will be enforced by law.
Under the program, “all new load growth from Jan. 1, 2005 through July 1, 2012” is to come from SPEED-qualified renewable resources. It’s well on its way, with more than 188,400 MWH of SPEED-qualified power already in operation, and a total of 419,482 MWH of SPEED-qualified electric generation in active development, according to the program’s site, vermontspeed.com. Together they represent about 10 percent of the state’s electricity use as of Jan. 1, 2005, putting the program well on its way to meeting SPEED’s more ambitious 2017 goal.
Since SPEED’s inception, Vermont has added feed-in tariff provisions and a standard-offer contract, under which small energy generators are financially reimbursed for net excess electric generation, to the program. This is in addition to the state’s net-metering law. Home and building owners with PV and other renewable installations may opt to sign up for the standard-fee contract rather than net metering.
Corporate Tax Credit
Property Tax Exemption
Sales Tax Exemption
State Grant Program
State Loan Program
State Rebate Program
Utility Grant Program
Utility Loan Program
Utility Rebate Program
Rules, Regulations & Policies
Appliance/Equipment Efficiency Standards
Building Energy Code
Mandatory Utility Green Power Option
Public Benefits Fund
Renewables Portfolio Standard
Related Programs & Initiatives
The U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center (AFDC) provides a wide range of information and resources to enable the use of alternative fuels and other petroleum-reduction options, such as advanced vehicles, fuel blends, idle reduction and fuel economy. The AFDC site offers a database of state and federal laws and incentives related to alternative fuels and vehicles, air quality, fuel efficiency, and other transportation-related topics.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Green Power Network provides news and information on green power markets and activities, including opportunities to buy green power. This site provides state-by-state information on green power marketing and utility green power programs. In addition, the site lists marketers of renewable energy credits (RECs), also known as green tags or renewable energy certificates, which represent the environmental attributes of the power produced from renewable energy projects.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) enables low-income families to reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy-efficient. Through this program, weatherization service providers install energy-efficiency measures in the homes of qualifying homeowners free of charge. The WAP program web site offers a state-by-state map of opportunities, projects and activities.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Powering America site provides state-by-state information on wind projects and activities, including wind working groups, validated wind maps, anemometer loan programs, small wind guides, state-specific news, wind for schools, workshops and web casts.
Find A Vermont Solar Installer
|Technologies||Photovoltaics, Solar Hot Water Heating|
|Amount||$1.25 per watt, up to $12,500 for photovoltaics, up to $3,000 for solar hot water|
|Required Documentation||Vermont Small Scale Renewable Energy Incentive Program Project Documentation and Final Incentive Request|
|Official Web Site||http://www.rerc-vt.org/incentives/index.htm|
Vermont’s Small Scale Renewable Energy Incentive Program began in 2003. The program has been funded annually by various amounts, with any leftover monies for the incentive being carried over to the following year. In 2010, the program was funded with $5.28 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Funds for the program previously were made available through numerous state and federal agencies, including the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund, Central Vermont Public Service, Green Mountain Power, and through the United States Department of Energy.
This popular program already has approved more than 220 projects for 2010 by August. And $1.8 million in total funds related to the program have been awarded to projects either completed or still in development. The majority of those funds, $1.4 million, have been appropriated for photovoltaic (PV) projects in the residential and commercial sectors of the program.
Under the program, funds were allocated to residential and commercial sectors at a rate of $1.50 per watt for systems up to 10 kilowatts (kWs) until the program approved 750 kWs. That threshold was reached in August 2010. After that, rebates of $1.25 per watt for systems up to 10 kWs were offered to residents and commercial entities installing PV systems, allowing for a total rebate of $12,500. Resident applicants also may receive up to $3,000 for installing solar hot water heating systems.
The first-come-first-serve program allows residents to qualify for maximum lifetime rebates of up to $25,000. This can be achieved by submitting applications for different renewable energy installations.
To be eligible, the project must be installed by a registered Vermont Solar and Wind Partners installer. PV systems must be grid-tied and must apply for and receive a Certificate of Public Good from the Vermont Public Service Board. The system purchaser must also submit appropriate documentation prior to installing the system to reserve rebate funds for the system. Installations on buildings older than 50 years must also be in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act.
When approved, incentive reservations are active for nine months from the date of the incentive reservation approval for solar electric, solar hot water, and small wind. Upon completion, the installer must submit a Project Documentation and Final Incentive Request Form to the department, which must be signed and dated by the system owner before the nine-month period is over.
|Program Type||Low Interest-Rate Loan|
|Technologies||Photovoltaics, Solar Thermal Electric, Wind, and other renewables|
|Amount||Minimum $50,000, Maximum $500,000, 2 percent interest rate|
|Required Documentation||Loan application, documentation that at least 10 percent of project financed by equity|
|Official Web Site||http://publicservice.vermont.gov/energy/ee_cleanenergyfund.html|
Vermont’s Clean Energy Development Fund, which is managed by the Department of Public Service, makes low interest-rate loans of 2 percent available to individuals and organizations that install renewable energy projects or to those who purchase real estate to do so. The loans can fund no more than 90 percent of a project’s costs, and the remainder must include at least 10 percent of total cost provided through borrower equity.
A written commitment from any other lenders or guarantors is required with the application. Upon approval, borrowers must pay a fee equivalent to 1 percent of the loan amount, up to $1,500. In addition, borrowers must pay any closing costs related to the loan. As of June 2010, applications were due by the second Wednesday of each month. And applications could take up to 45 days to be approved.
The loans start at $50,000 and are capped at $500,000 for 2010. For the purposes of real estate, the loans have a 10-year repayment period. For the terms of purchasing equipment, the loans carry a maximum seven-year repayment period.
The loan program is available for a wide variety of clean or renewable energy projects and is not just for PV or solar thermal energy projects. However, only PV projects larger than 10 kWs are eligible for the loans.
|Program Type||Net Metering|
|Technologies||Photovoltaics, Solar Thermal Electric, and other renewables|
|Amount||Credited to bill at retail rate|
|Required Documentation||Certificate of Public Good|
|Official Web Site||http://psb.vermont.gov/utilityindustries/electric/backgroundinfo/netmetering|
Under Vermont’s net-metering law, as of August 2010, residents and organizations are eligible to net meter renewable-energy generating systems up to 250 kWs. Excess net generation during a month period is credited to the customer’s monthly electric bill at their retail rate on a rolling 12-month basis, not at the end of a year. Under the net-metering law, customers are not otherwise reimbursed for net excess generation.
The law also allows for inclusion via a group metering arrangement. Under such an arrangement, “a group of customers, or a single customer with multiple electric meters,” may chose to operate as a “single billing entity in order to offset that billing against a net metered system.”
To qualify for a net-metering arrangement in the state, applicants must apply for a Certificate of Public Good from the state’s Public Service Board prior to preparing a site for, or building the net-metered system.
If a system owner plans to regularly generate more electricity than needed at a site, he or she may opt to apply for Vermont’s Standard Offer feed-in tariff program, which requires much more paperwork and time. Under the Standard Offer, applicants agree to a 25-year purchasing agreement with a utility for excess produced energy with the utility and perform a project evaluation.