Vermont energy co-op is latest utility to question net-metering

  • Vermont Solar
    Vermont is pressing ahead with large-scale and residential solar installs but limits to net-metering could stymie progress in the latter. Image: Flickr/Putneypics

A rural Vermont energy co-op has joined some of the largest utilities in the US in their disapproval of net metering.

The Washington Electric Co-operative (WEC) told local press that it was concerned that its involvement in the scheme could be interpreted as it being “irresponsible financially”.

Net metering allows owners of solar installations to feed their excess electricity to the grid and wind their meter backwards. WEC will now limit the size of future eligible solar installations to 5kW as it looks to protect its revenue.

“As a not for profit electric utility, which is owned by our members, our only recourse for recovering insufficient revenue is to increase rates,” said Patricia Richards, general manager, WEC, in an interview with Portland Press Herald.

“We really love renewables here. This is what WEC is all about,” she added.

Many utilities have attacked the set up, including in Arizona and Colorado, calling for limits to be applied to net metering’s reach. Incumbent power companies argue that residents feeding back to the grid are benefitting more from the infrastructure but contributing less to its upkeep.

A utility in Arizona has proposed to the state regulator that net-metering customers should pay additional rates to cover their contribution to the infrastructure’s upkeep.

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