Legislators Aim To Boost Incentives For Renewable Energy Projects

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(Host) Legislative leaders are crafting a bill that would expand incentives for renewable energy projects.

The bill sets aggressive targets for clean energy development, and adds money to a fund that could help pay for the projects.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) The bill broadens a program known as net metering. This allows utility customers to sell electricity back to their power companies if their home and business has its own renewable generating plant.

East Montpelier Democrat Tony Klein chairs the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee.

He says the state’s net metering program is a success and should be expanded. 

(Klein) "Net metered projects for businesses, for example, is a great way for them to mitigate the cost of energy, for electricity, going forward. It actually creates more consistency for them and they know exactly what the cost of electricity is going to be."

(Dillon) The bill would allow customers to sell back as much as 500 kilowatts for farms or systems that serve neighborhoods or businesses.

And it says utilities should offer additional incentives for customers who use solar energy projects

The legislation would also bolster the state’s Clean Energy Development Fund, which helps pay for renewable projects. The fund now gets money from Vermont Yankee. But the nuclear plant is scheduled to retire in March 2012, and Klein says a new revenue source needs to be found. But he says his committee has not yet settled on a funding mechanism.

(Klein) There’s a couple of proposals in there that I don’t mind telling you have already caused heartburn for a lot of people because they are charges to the consumer…. One that we’re looking at that doesn’t seem to have much traction, quite frankly, is a $1.50 per customer, per meter service charge per month."

(Dillon) The bill also sets renewable energy goals for the state. It says that by 2022 the state should meet one-third of its electricity needs from in-state renewable sources.

For VPR News, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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