For Homeowners Considering Solar, Congress Giveth and Vermont Taketh Away
Homeowners looking to install solar power received welcome news from Congress over the Christmas holidays. As part of an omnibus spending bill, Congress extended the federal Investment Tax Credit for solar energy by two years. The 26% credit for residential installations now will remain in effect through 2022, before the credit falls to 22% in 2023 and then expires in 2024. The two-year extension gives the solar industry and those who care about climate change extra time to negotiate longer-term tax credits and cement ties with the climate goals of the incoming Biden administration.
But for homeowners in Vermont wanting to go solar, there is still an urgency to act right away. Solar incentives (also called “adders”) are about to be cut back, again, by the Vermont Public Utilities Commission. The net-metering rate will be slashed by 2 cents per kilowatt-hour on Feb. 1, followed by an additional 1₵/kWh on Sept. 1. To secure the current, higher net-metering rates, Vermont homeowners only need to submit a simple form, called a Certificate for Public Good (CPG), before the end of this month. There’s no commitment with submission of this form — but it locks in today’s more favorable rates should one choose to move forward in the coming year. (Contact Us and we’ll fill you in on how it works and help you submit.)
Vermont Regulators Need to ‘See the Light’
The clampdown on solar net-metering payments puts Vermont out of step with the larger solar energy boom in America. Solar installations in Vermont mushroomed under the federal tax credits and net-metering adders; solar now generates about 7% of Vermont’s total electricity needs – enough to power 58,000 homes. But the one-two punch of net-metering cutbacks and increased permitting costs has set back Vermont’s solar industry: it’s lost hundreds of jobs since 2016, when the state ranked first in U.S. solar jobs per capita.
The benefits of solar energy go far beyond local job creation, however. A recent study by Synapse Energy Economics, an environmental research and consulting firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts, found that solar power in New England cut carbon dioxide pollution by 4.6 million tons from 2014-2019, roughly the equivalent of 1 million fewer cars on the road. (In 2019, carbon dioxide reductions from solar power production in Vermont were the equivalent of taking 42,000 cars off the road.) Across New England, solar has contributed $87 million in public health benefits between 2014 and 2019, in addition to the $1.1 billion in benefits from switching away from fossil fuel-fired power plants in wholesale power production.
The Vermont PUC, however, is still looking in the rear-view mirror in forging the state’s energy policy. It’s time for the VPUC to “see the light” in solar’s promise to promote clean energy, local jobs and sustainable economic growth. And the time for you to act is right now, before the net-metering curbs take effect on Feb. 1! Contact Us and we can help you figure out how solar can work for you, or call (802) 649-3700 or text us at (802) 308-3108.