Small electric utilities around Vermont are concerned their customers will face higher bills to pay for a boom in solar projects. Last month, the utilities complained to regulators about the subsidies they have to pay for certain solar projects.
Hardwick Electric — a small, publicly-owned utility that serves 4,300 customers in 11 rural towns — is feeling the impact of the solar surge.
General Manager Mike Sullivan is a 30-year veteran of the utility industry, and he said solar projects that qualify for a program known as “net-metering” cost ratepayers money.
“We want to serve our customers as best as we can and give them quality, reliable power for the lowest price we can — and net metering doesn’t really help us accomplish that mission,” Sullivan said.
Under Vermont’s net-metering program, a utility essentially has to buy the output of a project at above market rates, although the amount varies depending on size and location.