Editorial: A note on H.289 and net metering

Angelo Lynn

To give David Blittersdorf a little background, for the past several years under Gov. Phil Scott’s term the governor and the Democratic controlled Legislature have been undermining community solar and siding with the Public Utility Commission’s interest in driving down electric costs over the vital interest of reducing the state’s carbon footprint. H.289, as written, would put a nail in the coffin of community solar, at least for the time being and would disrupt a vital part of the state’s solar production.

Community solar is simply the ability for an individual to participate in solar usage if their own lot or circumstances prevent them from being able to place any solar arrays of their own — usually because they are in a place without adequate sunlight to make it feasible. Renters also can participate in community solar.

In Blittersdorf’s letter to Sen. Chris Bray, chair of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, he clearly spells out the threat this bill poses to companies like his own, but also how it can be simply fixed.

“H.289 effectively puts renewable energy development solely in the hands of the utilities … While AllEarth Renewables appreciates that H.289 has now evolved to recognize the importance of actual procurement … the interplay of that section and the rest of the bill has the incongruous result of that report not being due until after the ability to permit group net metering projects has expired.

“Elimination of that incongruity and retention of the benefits of group net metering, can happen by simply removing H.289’s proposed changes to the “group net metering” and “net metering” definitions … This change preserves the opportunities that net metering offers to renters, participants in future community solar arrays, affordable housing communities, and other Vermonters who have no other meaningful solar energy access beyond what group net metering provides, and the legislature will, of course, be free to assess the desirability of any changes once the report has been completed.”

In short, if the state’s goal is to reduce the use of fossil fuels and to promote the use of solar energy, there is no reason to restrict or eliminate the ability in the future to promote community solar arrays. It’s a simple fix that should be made before passage of this bill.

— Angelo Lynn

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