The Hardwick Electric Department is a small municipal utility serving about 4,300 customers in and around the town of Hardwick. Until recently, the Hardwick Electric Department had a net metering cap of 4 percent of peak load, which is the state-mandated minimum that utilities must accept. Now the department has raised its cap to 6 percent.
So what's the big deal? It turns out to be a significant move for at least one Hardwick Electric customer: Sterling College in Craftsbury. The higher cap means the college will be able to add 10 solar trackers to its existing array, enabling the campus to get over 80 percent of its electricity from solar power.
Net metering allows electric customers with solar generators to feed excess power back onto the grid. The utility then credits the customer's bill for the excess electricity produced.
“Hardwick Electric is proving itself to be a leader for the future of local, renewable energy in Vermont,” said Sterling College President Matthew Derr. “By raising the net metering cap by 2 percent, the utility is in line with the Hardwick Town Plan to purchase locally produced power first. Hardwick is modeling how other Vermont communities can work to meet the state’s goal of using 90% renewable energy by 2050.”
The higher cap means that Sterling College can go forward with permitting for its installation of 10 more solar trackers on campus. Sterling already has two solar trackers, as well as fixed solar panels on its barn.