Sustainable, Just, and Democratic
Edited by Melissa K. Scanlan
Chapter 9: Distributed renewables in the new economy: lessons from community solar development in Vermont
Solar power is booming across the US, as PV panel costs fall and interest in clean and distributed energy grows. In Vermont, net-metered solar electric generation has grown dramatically over the last seven years due to state and federal policies incentivizing net metering. At the state level, Vermont established group net metering policies creating a stable source of revenue that its banks and credit unions have relied on to approve financing to purchase solar projects. The federal residential investment tax credit (ITC), providing a 30 percent credit for Solar PV generation, further supports solar ownership. While solar ownership has grown, some policymakers and advocates are concerned that the benefits of net-metered solar are not fairly distributed throughout the economy. This chapter explores trends in renewable energy development and how clean distributed energy may disrupt the current utility model. The chapter also explores current state and federal policies for solar development and how they can be used to promote meaningful community ownership: a model that supports the local economy while reducing carbon emissions. The chapter concludes by exploring strategies for scaling up Vermont‘s community solar model to support the goals of a new economy.
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