Net Metering

What is a net-metered system?
A net-metered system is a renewable energy installation that you own and is connected to your building and the electric grid. If a renewable energy system produces more power at any given moment than the property consumes, the extra power will flow into BED’s electric grid. During months when a renewable system sends more power into the grid than the property takes from the grid the difference or “net” will result in a credit on the electric bill. A special bi-directional meter or net-meter (provided by BED) measures the amount of electricity used from the grid and any excess electricity sent to the grid.

All Vermont electric utilities are required to offer net-metering. More information about Vermont’s net-metering rules is available at the Public Service Board.

The Vermont Department of Public Service provides a Guide to Residential Solar that offers a lot of useful information on solar PV systems.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are the most commonly used net-metered energy system in the greater Burlington area.

Additional information on photovoltaic and other generation systems in Burlington area can be found on our Distributed Generation page.  

Do I need to be connected to the grid for net metering? Yes. To qualify for all net-metering benefits, including BED's Solar Rider Tariff described below and cash incentives currently available from the State of Vermont, the system needs to be connected to the utility grid.
How does BED’s net-meter Solar Rider tariff work?

BED is excited to have received approval from the Public Service Board in June 2012 for its Net-Metered Renewable Energy Source Rider, which enhances the financial benefits for customers with net-metered solar photovoltaic (PV) renewable energy systems.

BED's solar rider pays:
Net Metered Photovoltaic Generation
All Customers $0.052265

To be eligible, customers must install a separate meter to record the kilowatt hour (kWh) output from the PV array. This requires having a licensed electrician install a separate meter channel and then BED will supply a meter, which the customer will be billed for. Currently, residential meters cost about $150 and commercial meters about $350. This new tariff is also available to existing PV net-metered systems.

Download the full Net Metered Renewable Energy Source Rider (PDF).

How much does a solar energy system cost? The total cost for purchasing and installing a solar energy system is based on the system size you require, available rebates and the specific details of the layout of your property. Solar energy systems often range from $4 - $7/watt ($4,000 to $7,000 per kW)
What is the likely payback on my investment, in terms of years? Payback time is determined by many factors, most importantly the amount of your current electricity bill. Customers with lower bill amounts typically have a 20-plus year payback period. Customers who have larger bills may see a shorter payback period. BED’s Energy Services staff is available to work with customers to help estimate likely paybacks along with the estimated environmental benefits.
How does a solar system generate electricity? A solar energy system generates electricity through the use of photovoltaic (PV) technology. PV panels turn the sun’s light energy directly into electric energy. The electricity generated by a solar PV system works just like the electricity delivered by the utility. After passing through a component called an inverter, the direct current (DC) electricity generated by the solar panels is converted to alternating current (AC), the type of electricity that you access through the outlets in your home or business.
Will a solar energy system produce enough energy to handle all my electricity needs? For the average BED residential customer, a PV system will produce 35- 50% of the customer’s annual energy needs. The proper size of the system depends on how large an investment you want to make and how much un-shaded roof or ground space are available. Including energy efficiency improvements with the PV project can help to increase the percentage of annual usage that the PV system covers. BED’s Energy Services Staff can assist you with analyzing your energy efficiency opportunities and savings.
How much electricity will a solar energy system produce? The amount of electricity generated by a PV system is dependent upon several factors, primarily system size, orientation of the system to the sun and shading issues from nearby building or trees. Typically, a fixed PV system using 100 square feet of solar panels (this consists of four to five solar panels that will generate about 1,000 watts) will produce about 1,100 kWh per year if well oriented with no seasonal shading issues.
How much roof space do I need for an installation? For every kilowatt (1 kW = 1,000 watts) installed, a solar system takes up about 100 square feet.
How old can my roof be? It is recommended that the roof be in good shape and all necessary roof replacement or repairs occur before the panels are installed.
Can I increase the size of my solar energy system at a later date? Yes, provided you have the available roof or ground space.
How do I know if I have a good site for a solar installation? Qualified solar professionals can tell you if your site has the proper orientation, good exposure to the sun, and an adequate amount of structural support and space for solar panels to be placed. They can also advise you on ground or pole-mounted options.
Who are qualified professionals? To be eligible for net-metering incentives currently provided by the State of Vermont, business owners need to work with a Vermont Solar and Wind Partnership Program installer. These installers are eligible to receive financial incentives for their projects. Contact information for Vermont Solar and Wind Partnership Program installers, and current incentives, can be obtained from Renewable Energy Vermont.
Who will help me apply for the Vermont solar incentives? Your Vermont Solar and Wind Partnership Program installer will assist in both the required net-metering application process with the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) and the incentive application process with the Vermont Small Scale Renewable Energy Incentive Program. Please ensure that your installer contacts both the City Electrical Inspector and BED to review the installation and interconnection to BED’s system. Installer information is available here.
Where can I go for more information? BED staff is available to explain the solar rider tariff in more detail and answer any questions about net-metering systems in Burlington. Feel free to email Chris Burns or call him at 802-865-7337. Click here for general information about PV systems.