VT Renewable Energy Incentive Program
Client: Vermont Department of Public Service and the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund
In 2003, the Vermont Legislature authorized the establishment of a program of incentive payments to promote the installation of small scale renewable energy systems at Vermont residences and businesses. In addition to the provision of financial support to customers, the program was designed to strengthen the renewables industry in the state. Charged with implementing this program, the Department of Public Service turned to VEIC for assistance in designing an effective incentive structure and for delivering program services.
VEIC worked with the Department and Renewable Energy Vermont to design incentives to help defray the up-front costs of small renewables projects. The team also worked to support Vermont Solar and Wind Partners - installers with certified levels of experience and training. Working through its public outreach arm, the Renewable Energy Resource Center, VEIC began providing incentive payments for solar PV, solar hot water, and small wind projects in late 2003 (funded through the Vermont Petroleum Violation Escrow Fund). For the first several years of the Program, funding was sporadic, and VEIC worked with interested stakeholders to encourage additional resources. The state’s investor-owned utilities added funding from their renewable energy plans to the program, and in 2006 the newly created Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund added its support. In addition, targeted funds for small wind development came from the U.S. Department of Energy from 2005 through 2008.
The program has been highly successful – both as a key resource for consumers and as source of critical support for the growing renewables industry in Vermont. Funding has grown from $200,000 a year to a current two-year budget of $5.5 million. More than $4 million in incentives have been paid, leveraging nearly $21 million in total investment, a 4:1 ration of private to public investment. The program has helped to drive supported the installation of more than 500 PV systems and 90 small wind projects, resulting in over 1.8 MW of new renewable capacity. Assistance has also been provided for nearly 600 solar hot water systems. Participation in the industry Partners program has risen from 21 original partners to over 120. The program recently added an incentive for small micro-hydro projects, and continues to investigate innovative mechanisms for promoting the state’s small renewable market.