Title 30: Public Service
Chapter 5: POWERS AND DUTIES OF DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SERVICE AND PUBLIC SERVICE BOARD AS TO COMPANIES OTHER THAN RAILROADS AND AIRCRAFT
Sub-Chapter 1: General Powers
30 V.S.A. § 219a. Self-generation and net metering
§ 219a. Self-generation and net metering
(a) As used in this section:
(1) "Customer" means a retail electric consumer who uses a net metering system.
(2) "Net metering" means measuring the difference between the electricity supplied to a customer and the electricity fed back by a net metering system during the customer's billing period:
(A) using a single, nondemand meter or such other meter that would otherwise be applicable to the customer's usage but for the use of net metering; or
(B) on farm or group systems, using multiple meters as specified in this chapter. The calculation will be made by converting all meters to a nondemand, nontime-of-day meter, and equalizing them to the tariffed kilowatt-hour rate.
(3) "Net metering system" means a facility for generation of electricity that:
(A) is of no more than 500 kW capacity;
(B) operates in parallel with facilities of the electric distribution system;
(C) is intended primarily to offset the customer's own electricity requirements;
(D) is located on the customer's premises or, in the case of a group net metering system, on the premises of a customer who is a member of the group; and
(E)(i) employs a renewable energy source as defined in subdivision 8002(17) of this title; or
(ii) is a qualified micro-combined heat and power system of 20 kW or fewer that meets the definition of combined heat and power in 10 V.S.A. § 6523(b) and may use any fuel source that meets air quality standards.
(4) "Facility" means a structure or piece of equipment and associated machinery and fixtures that generates electricity. A group of structures or pieces of equipment shall be considered one facility if it uses the same fuel source and infrastructure and is located in close proximity. Common ownership shall be relevant but not sufficient to determine that such a group constitutes a facility.
(5) "kW" means kilowatt or kilowatts (AC).
(6) "kWh" means kW hour or hours.
(7) "MW" means megawatt or megawatts (AC).
(b) A customer shall pay the same rates, fees, or other payments and be subject to the same conditions and requirements as all other purchasers from the electric company in the same rate-class, except as provided for in this section, and except for appropriate and necessary conditions approved by the Board for the safety and reliability of the electric distribution system.
(c) The Board shall establish by rule or order standards and procedures governing application for, and issuance or revocation of a certificate of public good for net metering systems under the provisions of section 248 of this title. A net metering system shall be deemed to promote the public good of the State if it is in compliance with the criteria of this section, and board rules or orders. In developing such rules or orders, the Board:
(1) With respect to a solar net metering system of 10 kW or less, shall provide that the system may be installed ten days after the customer's submission to the Board and the interconnecting electric company of a completed registration form and certification of compliance with the applicable interconnection requirements. Within that ten-day period, the interconnecting electric company may deliver to the customer and the Board a letter detailing any issues concerning the interconnection of the system. The customer shall not commence construction of the system prior to the passage of this ten-day period and, if applicable, resolution by the Board of any interconnection issues raised by the electric company in accordance with this subsection. If the ten-day period passes without delivery by the electric company of a letter that raises interconnection issues in accordance with this subsection, a certificate of public good shall be deemed issued on the 11th day without further proceedings, findings of fact, or conclusions of law, and the customer may commence construction of the system. On request, the Clerk of the Board promptly shall provide the customer with written evidence of the system's approval. For the purpose of this subdivision, the following shall not be included in the computation of time: Saturdays, Sundays, State legal holidays under 1 V.S.A. § 371(a), and federal legal holidays under 5 U.S.C. § 6103(a).
(2) With respect to a net metering system for which a certificate of public good is not deemed issued under subdivision (1) of this subsection:
(A) may waive the requirements of section 248 of this title that are not applicable to net metering systems, including criteria that are generally applicable to public service companies as defined in this title;
(B) may modify notice and hearing requirements of this title as it deems appropriate;
(C) shall seek to simplify the application and review process as appropriate; and
(D) shall find that such rules are consistent with state power plans.
(d)(1) An applicant for a certificate of public good for a net metering system shall be exempt from the requirements of subsection 202(f) of this title.
(2) Any certificate issued under this section shall be automatically transferred to any subsequent owner of the property served by the net metering system, provided, in accordance with rules adopted by the Board, the Board and the electric company are notified of the transfer, and the subsequent owner agrees to comply with the terms and conditions of the certificate.
(3) Nonuse of a certificate of public good for a period of one year following the date on which the certificate is issued or, under subdivision (c)(1) of this section, deemed issued shall constitute an abandonment of the net metering system and the certificate shall be considered expired. For the purpose of this section, for a certificate to be considered "used," installation of the net metering system must be completed within the one-year period, unless installation is delayed by litigation or unless, at the time the certificate is issued or in a subsequent proceeding, the Board provides that installation may be completed more than one year from the date the certificate is issued.
(e) Consistent with the other provisions of this title, electric energy measurement for net metering systems using a single nondemand meter that are not group systems shall be calculated in accordance with subdivisions (1)-(3) of this subsection, and electric energy measurement for net metering systems that use other types of meters shall be calculated in accordance with subdivision (4) of this subsection.
(1) The electric company which serves the net metering customer shall measure the net electricity produced or consumed during the customer's billing period, in accordance with normal metering practices.
(2) If the electricity supplied by the electric company exceeds the electricity generated by the customer and fed back to the electric distribution system during the billing period, the customer shall be billed for the net electricity supplied by the electric company, in accordance with normal metering practices.
(3) If electricity generated by the customer exceeds the electricity supplied by the electric company:
(A) The electric company shall calculate a monetary credit to the customer by multiplying the excess kWh generated during the billing period by the kWh rate paid by the customer for electricity supplied by the company and shall apply the credit to any remaining charges on the customer's bill for that period;
(B) If application to such charges does not use the entire balance of the credit, the remaining balance of the credit shall appear on the customer's bill for the following billing period; and
(C) Any accumulated credits shall be used within 12 months, or shall revert to the electric company, without any compensation to the customer. Power reverting to the electric company under this subdivision (3) shall be considered SPEED resources under section 8005 of this title.
(4) For a net metering system serving a customer on a demand or time-of-use rate schedule, the manner of measurement and the application of bill credits for the electric energy produced or consumed shall be substantially similar to that specified in this subsection for use with a single nondemand meter. However, if such a net metering system is interconnected directly to the electric company through a separate meter whose primary purpose is to measure the energy generated by the system:
(A) The bill credits shall apply to all kWh generated by the net metering system and shall be calculated as if the customer were charged the kWh rate component of the interconnecting company's general residential rate schedule that consists of two rate components: a service charge and a kWh rate, excluding time-of-use rates and demand rates.
(B) If a company's general residential rate schedule includes inclining block rates, the residential rate used for this calculation shall be the highest of those block rates.
(f) Consistent with the other provisions of this title, electric energy measurement for group net metering systems shall be calculated in the following manner:
(1) Net metering customers that are group net metering systems may credit on-site generation against all meters designated to the group net metering system under subdivision (g)(1)(A) of this section.
(2) Electric energy measurement for group net metering systems shall be calculated by subtracting total usage of all meters included in the group net metering system from total generation by the group net metering system. If the electricity generated by the group net metering system is less than the total usage of all meters included in the group net metering system during the billing period, the group net metering system shall be credited for any accumulated credit and then billed for the net electricity supplied by the electric company, in accordance with the procedures in subsection (g) (group net metering) of this section.
(3) If electricity generated by the group net metering system exceeds the electricity supplied by the electric company, the provisions of subdivision (e)(3) (credit for excess generation) of this section shall apply, with credits allocated to and appearing on the bill of each member of the group net metering system in accordance with subsection (g) (group net metering) of this section.
(4) The Board shall apply the provisions of subdivision (e)(4) of this section (measurement and credits; nonstandard meters) to group net metering systems that serve one or more customers who are on a demand or time-of-use rate schedule.
(g)(1) In addition to any other requirements of section 248 of this title and this section and Board rules thereunder, before a group net metering system including more than one meter may be formed and served by an electric company, the proposed group net metering system shall file with the Board, with copies to the department and the serving electric company, the following information:
(A) the meters to be included in the group net metering system, which shall be associated with the buildings and residences owned or occupied by the person operating the group net metering system, or the person's family or employees, or other members of the group, identified by account number and location;
(B) a procedure for adding and removing meters included in the group net metering system, and direction as to the manner in which the electric company shall allocate any accrued credits among the meters included in the system, which allocation subsequently may be changed only on written notice to the electric company in accordance with subdivision (4) of this subsection;
(C) a designated person responsible for all communications from the group net metering system to the serving electric company except for communications related to billing, payment, and disconnection; and
(D) a binding process for the resolution of any disputes within the group net metering system relating to net metering that does not rely on the serving electric company, the Board, or the Department. However, this subdivision (D) shall not apply to disputes between the serving electric company and individual members of a group net metering system regarding billing, payment, or disconnection.
(2) The group net metering system shall, at all times, maintain a written designation to the serving electric company of a person to receive any communications regarding the group net metering system or net metering that do not relate to billing, payment, or disconnection.
(3) The serving electric company shall bill directly and send all communications regarding billing, payment, and disconnection directly to the customer name and address listed for the account of each individual meter designated under subdivision (1)(A) of this subsection as being part of a group net metering system. The usage charges for any account so billed shall be based on the individual meter for the account. The credit applied on that bill for electricity generated by the group net metering system shall be calculated in the manner directed by the system under subdivision (1)(B) of this subsection.
(4) The serving electric company shall implement appropriate changes to the group net metering system within 30 days after receiving written notification from the designated person. However, written notification of a change in the person designated under subdivision (2) of this subsection shall be effective upon receipt by the serving electric company. The serving electric company shall not be liable for action based on such notification, but shall make any necessary corrections and bill adjustments to implement revised notifications.
(5) Pursuant to subsection 231(a) of this title, after such notice and opportunity for hearing as the Board may require, the Board may revoke a certificate of public good issued to a group net metering system.
(6) A group net metering system may consist only of customers that are located within the service area of the same electric company. Various buildings owned by municipalities, including water and wastewater districts, fire districts, villages, school districts, and towns, may constitute a group net metering system. A union or district school facility shall be considered in the same group net metering system with buildings of its member municipalities that are located within the service area of the same electric company that serves the facility. If it determines that it would promote the general good, the Board shall permit a noncontiguous group of net metering customers to comprise a group net metering system.
(h)(1) An electric company:
(A) Shall make net metering available to any customer using a net metering system or group net metering system on a first-come, first-served basis until the cumulative output capacity of net metering systems equals 4.0 percent of the distribution company's peak demand during 1996; or the peak demand during the most recent full calendar year, whichever is greater. The Board may raise the 4.0 percent cap. In determining whether to raise the cap, the Board shall consider the following:
(i) the costs and benefits of net metering systems already connected to the system; and
(ii) the potential costs and benefits of exceeding the cap, including potential short and long-term impacts on rates, distribution system costs and benefits, reliability and diversification costs and benefits;
(B) Shall allow net metering systems to be interconnected using a kilowatt-hour meter capable of registering the flow of electricity in two directions or such other comparably equipped meter that would otherwise be applicable to the customer's usage but for the use of net metering;
(C) May, at its own expense, and with the written consent of the customer, install one or more additional meters to monitor the flow of electricity in each direction;
(D) Except as otherwise provided in this section, shall charge the customer a minimum monthly fee that is the same as for other customers of the electric distribution company in the same rate class, but shall not charge the customer any additional standby, capacity, interconnection, or other fee or charge;
(E) May require a customer to comply with generation interconnection, safety, and reliability requirements, as determined by the Public Service Board by rule or order, and may charge reasonable fees for interconnection, establishment, special metering, meter reading, accounting, account correcting, and account maintenance of net metering arrangements of greater than 15 kW capacity;
(F) May charge, if the capacity of the distribution system is insufficient for the designed generation, subject to determination by the Board, a reasonable fee to cover the cost of electric company improvements necessary to distribute power;
(G) May require that all meters included within a farm or group net metering system be read on the same billing cycle;
(H) May book and defer, with carrying costs, additional incremental costs, to the extent that such costs are not recovered through charges, authorized in subdivisions (D), (E), and (F) of this subdivision (1), directly related to implementing net metering of greater than 15 kilowatt (AC) capacity.
(J) May in its rate schedules offer credits or other incentives that may include monetary payments to net metering customers. These credits or incentives shall not displace the benefits provided to such customers under subsections (e) and (f) of this section.
(K) Except as provided in subdivision (v) of this subdivision (1)(K), shall in its rate schedules offer a credit to each net metering customer using solar energy that shall apply to each kWh generated by the customer's solar net metering system and that shall not displace the benefits provided to such customers under subsections (e) and (f) of this section.
(i) The credit required by this subdivision (K) shall be $0.20 minus the residential rate per kWh charged by the company as of the date it files with the Board a proposed modification to its rate schedules to effect this subdivision (K) or to revise a credit previously instituted under this subdivision (K). For the purposes of this subdivision (K), the residential rate shall be the kWh rate charged by the company under its general residential rate schedule that consists of two rate components: a service charge and a kWh rate, and shall exclude time-of-use rates and demand rates. If a company's general residential rate schedule includes inclining block rates, the residential rate shall be the highest of those block rates. Notwithstanding the basis for this credit calculation, the amount of the credit shall not fluctuate with changes in the underlying residential rate used to calculate the amount.
(ii) The electric company shall apply the credit calculated in accordance with subdivision (i) of this subdivision (1)(K) to generation from each net metering system using solar energy regardless of the customer's rate class. A credit under this subdivision (K) shall be applied to all charges on the customer's bill from the electric company and shall be subject to the provisions of subdivisions (e)(3)(B)(credit for unused balance) and (C)(12-month reversion) and (f)(3)(credit for excess generation; group net metering) of this section.
(iii) An electric company's proposed modification to a rate schedule to offer a credit under this subdivision (K) and any investigation initiated by the Board or party other than the company of an existing credit contained in such a rate schedule shall be reviewed in accordance with the procedures set forth in section 225 of this title, except that:
(I) A company's proposed modification shall take effect on filing with the Board and shall not be subject to suspension under section 226 of this title;
(II) Such a modification or investigation into an existing credit shall not require review of the company's entire cost of service; and
(III) Such a modification or existing credit may be altered by the Board for prospective effect only commencing with the date of the Board's decision.
(iv) Within 30 days of this subdivision's effective date, each electric company shall file a proposed modification to its rate schedule that complies with this subdivision (K). Such proposed modification, as it may be revised by the Board, shall not be changed for two years starting with the date of the Board's decision on the modification. After the passage of that two-year period, further modifications to the amount of a credit under this subdivision may be made in accordance with subdivisions (i)-(iii) of this subdivision (1)(K).
(v) An electric company shall not be required to offer a credit under this subdivision (K) if, as of the effective date of this subdivision, the result of the calculation described in subdivision (i) of this subdivision (1)(K) is zero or less.
(vi) A solar net metering system shall receive the amount of the credit under this subdivision (K) that is in effect for the service territory in which the system is installed as of the date of the system's installation and shall continue to receive that amount for not less than 10 years after that date regardless of any subsequent modification to the credit as contained in the electric company's rate schedules.
(vii) Not later than 30 days after Board approval of an electric company's first rate schedule proposed to comply with this subdivision (1)(K), the company shall offer the amount of the credit contained in such rate schedule to each solar net metering system placed into service prior to the date on which the company submitted the proposed schedule to the Board. Each system that accepts this offer shall receive the credit for not less than 10 years after the date of such acceptance, provided that the system remains in service, and regardless of any subsequent modification to the credit as contained in the company's rate schedules. Should an additional meter at the premises of the net metering customer be necessary to implement this subdivision (vii), or should that meter need replacement because it fails or is destroyed, the net metering customer shall not pay a charge greater than the cost of the equipment and installation of the additional or replacement meter.
(2) All such requirements or credits or other incentives shall be pursuant to and governed by a tariff approved by the board and any applicable Board rule, which tariffs and rules shall be designed in a manner reasonably likely to facilitate net metering. With respect to a credit or incentive under subdivision (1)(J) (optional credit or incentive) or (K) (solar credit) of this subsection that is provided to a net metering system that constitutes new renewable energy under subdivision 8002(4) of this title:
(A) If the credit or incentive applies to each kWh generated by the system, then the system's energy production shall count toward the goals and requirements of subsection 8005(d) of this title.
(B) If the credit or incentive applies only to the system's net energy production supplied to the company, then the increment of net energy production supplied by the customer to the company through a net metering system that is supported by such additional credit or incentive shall count toward the goals and requirements of subsection 8005(d) of this title.
(i)(1) A net metering system using photovoltaic generation shall conform to applicable electrical safety, power quality, and interconnection requirements established by the National Electrical Code, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, and Underwriters Laboratories. The customer shall be responsible for installation, testing, accuracy, and maintenance of net metering equipment.
(2) By March 1, 1999, the Board shall adopt, by rule or order, electrical safety, power quality, and interconnection requirements for net metering equipment which uses generation technologies other than photovoltaic technology. In developing safety rules, and any amendments to those rules, the Board shall solicit input from representatives of utilities and agents representing line workers.
(3) The Board may adopt, by rule or order, additional safety, power quality, and interconnection requirements for customers that the Board determines are necessary to protect public safety and system reliability.
(4) Pending the effective date of requirements adopted by the Board under subsection (c) of this section and subdivision (2) of this subsection, an electric company may allow a customer to interconnect a net metering system, to be operated as provided in this section, if the company is reasonably satisfied concerning the safety and power quality of the system. The customer may then operate the net metering system pending application for and receipt of a certificate of public good under subsection (c) of this section, provided such application shall be made within three months after the effective date of requirements adopted by the Board under subsection (c).
(5) An electric company may, at its own expense, and upon reasonable written notice to the customer, perform such testing and inspection of a net metering system in order to confirm that the system conforms to applicable electrical safety, power quality, and interconnection requirements.
(k) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (f) and (g) of this section, an electric company may contract to purchase all or a portion of the output products from a group net metering system, provided:
(1) the group net metering system obtains a certificate of public good under the terms of subsections (c) and (d) of this section;
(2) any contracted power shall be subject to the limitations set forth in subdivision (h)(1) of this section;
(3) any contract shall be subject to interconnection and metering requirements in subdivisions (h)(1)(C) and (i)(2) and (3) of this section;
(4) any contract may permit all or a portion of the tradeable renewable energy credits for which the system is eligible to be transferred to the electric company;
(5) the output capacity of a system may exceed 500 kW, provided:
(A) the contract assigns the amount of power to be net metered; and
(B) the net metered amount does not exceed 500 kW; and
(C) only the amount assigned to net metering is assessed to the cap provided in subdivision (h)(1)(A) of this section.
( l ) The board shall adopt rules regarding the application of the esthetics criterion established in subdivision 248(b)(5) of this title to an application for a certificate under this section for a single, net metered wind turbine that is less than 150 feet in height.
(m) A facility for the generation of electricity to be consumed primarily by the Military Department established under 3 V.S.A. § 212 and 20 V.S.A. § 361(a) or the National Guard as defined in 32 U.S.C. § 101(3), and installed on property of the Military Department or National Guard located in Vermont, shall be considered a net metering system for purposes of this section if it has a capacity of 2.2 MW or less and meets the provisions of subdivisions (a)(3)(B) through (E) of this section. Such a facility shall not be subject to and shall not count toward the capacity limits of subdivisions (a)(3)(A) (no more than 500 kW) and (h)(1)(A) (four percent of peak demand) of this section. (Added 1997, No. 136 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. April 21, 1998; amended 1999, No. 157 (Adj. Sess.), § 17; 2001, No. 145 (Adj. Sess.), § 5; 2005, No. 208 (Adj. Sess.), § 12; 2007, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 14; 2009, No. 159 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. June 4, 2010; 2011, No. 47, § 1, eff. May 27, 2011; 2011, No. 125 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. June 10, 2012; 2011, No. 125 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 1, 3, 4, 5, eff. May 11, 2012.)