Raise the Virtual Net Metering Cap

Would you like to see your town use more renewable energy to power, light, and heat its municipal buildings, like the town hall, elementary school, and library? If so, you need to know about the virtual net metering (VNM) program in Connecticut and how it could stymie your best efforts.

What is virtual net metering? In a general sense, it is the practice of a utility keeping track of electricity generated by a renewable energy source, such as a solar array, and crediting the value of that electricity to electric users located elsewhere. Unlike in net metering, where the solar panels are on the same site of the credited electrical account, for example solar panels on top of a person's house, in virtual net metering the site of the generation and the site of the credited account are different, and a whole different set of state regulations come into play.

 

Here's an example: a town builds a 1 MW solar array on top of its closed landfill. The town designates the town hall, two elementary schools, and its library as beneficial accounts. The value of the output of the solar array is then credited against the electric bills of the four designated beneficial accounts, greatly reducing the amount the town pays each year to the electric company.

 

Right now, about 25 Connecticut towns participate in its VNM program, but if your town wants to join them, they can't because Connecticut has a cap on the value of electricity that can be credited from a generation facility to a municipal building on a different site. In 2015, the state limited participation in the VNM program to the state itself, agricultural businesses, and municipalities, and capped the value of all credited electricity to $10 million per year. In 2016, the legislature raised the portion allocated for municipalities by $5 million to allow 11 towns that had been planning projects to participate.

 

The problem is that no more towns can now participate in this program. The solution is to raise or remove the VNM cap. Here is what you need to do:

  • Become a little more familiar with the subject. See below to find some articles and reports on VNM policy in Connecticut. 

  • Contact your state legislator and let her or him know that you would like to see the VNM cap raised, so that your town can expand it's use of renewable energy, saving thousands of dollars in the process. 

  • Let your town officials know that you would like to see your town use more renewable energy

The new General Assembly session starts on January 4, 2017 and continues until June 4. You don't need to be an expert to express  an opinion and your legislator will listen to what you have to say. Together with other citizens and other towns speaking to their own legislators, we can make a difference in the amount of clean energy towns in Connecticut use.

Virtual Net Metering bill headed to governor's desk, HBJ 5/5/16


Towns push to expand virtual net metering, HBJ 4/18/16

Law prevents cities from building large solar arrays, HBJ 7/10/15

Stafford adds 3.4MW to net metering program, HBJ 11/16/16

Virtual Net Metering Update, Office of Legislative Research, 12/14/15