To the Editor:
In the middle of a climate change crisis, the Vermont Department of Public Service wants to make it more expensive for people to install solar power by recommending cuts to Vermont’s highly successful net-metering program.
Net metering makes going solar more affordable by giving ordinary people a credit on their electricity bill whenever their solar panels generate more power than they use. All Vermonters benefit because solar panels displace electricity from fossil fuel plants anytime the sun is shining.
Why would the department want to cut one of Vermont’s true climate success stories? Because in their narrow analysis, we might be able to get the same amount of solar power for a few cents savings on an average electric bill if we reduced the number of Vermont families and businesses going solar and built larger-scale projects instead.
The problem is we don’t need the same amount of solar power, we need more solar power.
We are facing a climate crisis because of short-sighted decision-making that let immediate cost savings blind us to the big picture costs of continuing to burn fossil fuels. That is precisely what is happening here.
If the department’s mandate doesn’t let it see the big picture — that we need to be accelerating not slowing renewable development — then it is time for the Legislature to step in and make it easier and cheaper for Vermonters to go solar.
Dowds is deputy director of Renewable Energy Vermont.