In her recent piece “The problems with net metering,” Annette Smith mischaracterizes the net-metering program that for decades has helped make installing solar power more affordable by allowing Vermonters to send any excess solar electricity they generate back to the grid in exchange for a credit on their electric bill.
Who are the beneficiaries of this program? In the first place, it’s ordinary Vermonters — homeowners and businesses that want to reduce their bills and do their part to fight climate change. But from a broader perspective, it benefits all Vermonters by producing clean, renewable energy that helps meet our climate goals without shipping ratepayer dollars out of state. And it’s these societal benefits that prompted the creation of the program in the first place. The Vermont Legislature wisely decided that for the cost of a few cents on the average homeowner’s electric bill, net-metering would help level the playing field after decades of taxpayer subsidies for the oil, gas, coal and nuclear industries.
Net-metering has made Vermont a solar energy leader —one of the top 5 states in the share of electricity coming from solar. Vermont solar installers range in size from family operations with one or two people to companies that employ dozens but they share a common goal: to make solar power a convenient, reliable and affordable option for all Vermonters.
The question is not, as Smith would have you believe, should we support net-metering or utility-scale solar arrays, but rather what can we do to get more of both?
Jonathan Dowds, Deputy director, Renewable Energy Vermont