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The Vermont Small Scale Renewable Energy Incentive Program is currently closed

The Clean Energy Fund is closed due to lack of funds.

From its its inception in 2003 to 2012, the CEDF has been supported via annual payments from Entergy (which owns the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant). In return, under terms of two memoranda of understanding between Entergy and the Vermont Department of Public Service (DPS) that expired in March 2012, Entergy is permitted to store its own spent nuclear fuel at the Vermont Yankee. Historically, the CEDF received approximately $7 million from Entergy annually. However, in 2010 the fund received only $4.5 million from Entergy and  approximately $3.9 million in 2011 through the end of the fund (March 2012).
At this point it is unclear how and where the money will come from for the continued promotion, development and deployment of cost-effective and environmentally sustainable electric power and thermal energy resources — primarily wind, solar PV, combined heat and power (CHP), solar thermal, and geothermal energy.
The Department of Public Service is considering reducing the incentive program because of the high demand and lowered funding levels.

I hope that the department understands that any changes to the program cause worry, concern and delays as well as cancelled projects. Since the goal of the program is to foster continued growth of the Renewable Energy Industry as well as accelerate the number of installations, the proposed changes would seem to indicate the intention is otherwise.

As the program sunsets installers pressure clients to move quickly, often without a fully informed decisions, (as can be the case with municipalities and low income families) who are not expert in navigating the financial calculations and many options that exist for these complex installations. A predictable timetable out for 5 years would help alleviate the pressure and allow installers and clients to do real un-rushed planning.

If or when Entergy Vermont Yankee ever begins paying into the fund or if they ever pay the 25 cents per kilowatt hour tax on electricity generated at Yankee that the Vermont legislature has voted to exact (Oct 2012) from Entergy remains to be seen. The bigger picture is that Vermont needs to come up with funding to fully support the Clean Energy Development Fund and Efficiency Vermont without relying on an aging nuclear power plant and it’s un-cooperative owners.
The details of the proposed cuts in the CEDF incentive program can be found here;

 These are now out for public comment:

http://alturl.com/88r7i 

Due to the increased demand for PV (solar electric) and the lack of funds, the DPS and the Clean Energy Development Fund are recommending changes to the program that would sharply decrease the incentive amounts available for “special customer” and commercial projects.

Some of the critical proposed changes for Special Customers (schools, towns, and low-income housing) and commercial customers are as follows:

  • Change the incentive for Special Customers from the current $2.10/W for systems <10kW; and $1.40/W for each additional watt up to a 50kW max to a flat $0.50/W to a max of 10kW.
  • Lower the kilowatt incentive cap for PV for commercial incentives from 25kW to 10kW
  • Lower the system size cap for commercial PV incentives from 150kW to 25kW; systems 25kW and larger would thus not be eligible for any incentives under this program

  • Change the incentive cap from 50% of the total installed costs for Special Customers to 20% for all incentives for all customers

The CEDF Board will vote on the proposed changes at their meeting on Jan. 24th 2013.

Please send in your comments before Jan 18th 2013.

It is vitally important to the solar industry in Vermont that these incentives remain in effect, and are not diminished or curtailed. It is equally important to come up with long term funding source (Not Vermont Yankee) and a consistent long term incentive structure that can help stabilize the ups and downs in demand for solar projects, in order to help our solar and renewable energy installers grow and succeed. If the goal is more solar then removing incentives has the opposite effect. The special customers are the ones most in need of financial help on projects.

In spite of many public meetings by the DPS, where town after town voted for clean energy over non renewable or nuclear energy, the DPS appears to be curtailing support for Solar Electric projects for commercial and special clients.
Please send a message that you want to see continued incentive support and no reductions in special customer incentives.

Please send in comments to: Andrew.perchlik@state.vt.us

or to the Clean Energy Development Fund at 112 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05620

Thank You!

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