Vermont State SealThe Vermont Energy Act of 2011 expands the State’s net metering program, establishes a minimum .20c/kWh benefit for renewable energy, and streamlines the permitting process for new photovoltaic systems.

Renewable Energy World concisely summarizes the program:

The process, which replaces permitting, allows solar customers to install the system 10 days after completing a registration form and certificate of compliance with interconnection requirements. The utility has 10 days to raise any issues concerning the interconnection, otherwise a Certificate of Public Good is granted and the project may be installed.

By making the standards for solar installations consistent state wide, Vermont recognizes that in the hands of competent installers, a grid-tied solar energy system is a straightforward installation with little risk to the homeowner.

The Green Mountain State Leads the Nation

Vermont’s progressive vision is literally first in the nation and has inspired many other states as a result. Installers in California, for example, estimate similar measures would eliminate $2,516 in permitting costs per residential installation and provide a $1 billion stimulus to the solar industry over the next five years.

To keep standards of work high, Vermont regulates quality through close relations with the independent, nonpartisan trade association Renewable Energy Vermont (REV). For a homeowner to access state rebates, they must contract an installer who has been scrutinized by REV, a process which includes a review of prior work, proof of technical competence, and a request to review NABCEP credentials.

What Vermont’s Neighbors Can Learn

Lake Region Community College - Laconia, NH
ReVision Energy solar installers at Lake Region Community College.

The streamlined permitting process and generous, performance based rewards for solar are all part of Vermont’s efforts to build a more independent electric grid and reduce carbon emissions – but it’s not just about the environment.

Martha Staskus of REV said in a recent interview that “Renewable energy development is an economic driver, creating jobs in the development, construction/manufacturing and renewable energy industries. Vermont has more than 300 renewable energy businesses – and as these thrive, job growth benefits.”

In a time when job-creation is a #1 issue for most politicians, we hope the fact that solar is the fastest growing industry in the US will catch their attention. The rewards for clean energy are huge – cleaner air to breathe, reduced stress on the grid, independence from fossil fuel energy and great jobs for the people who install the systems (as our team can attest).

Cheers to the Green Mountain State!