MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont House voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to sharply expand a 16-year-old program that allows electric customers to generate their own electricity, ship it to the power company and roll back their monthly bills, sometimes to zero.
The bill would allow "net metering" for self-generating customers to expand nearly four-fold. Current law requires utilities to accept customer-generated electricity up to an amount equaling 4 percent of their peak capacity but the bill up for final House approval on Thursday would boost that cap to 15 percent.
The bill would also allow utilities to petition state regulators for still higher caps.
At the end of 2016, when federal tax credits for generation by utility customers expire, the state program would as well. The second half of the bill advanced Wednesday on a 136-8 roll call vote calls on the state Public Service Board to draft recommendations for how net metering would be handled after that, and submit those recommendations to the Legislature for approval.
As a lobbyist on energy issues before being elected to the House in 2002, Rep. Tony Klein, D-East Montpelier, the chairman of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee, said he pushed for creation of the net metering program as a way to promote renewable energy and reduce carbon emissions tied to generating the energy used in Vermont.