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Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin has signed self-generation and net-energy metering (NEM) legislation (H.702) into law. The new law raises the 4% cap utilities had been using as the limit on their NEM programs to 15% of peak load.

The law applies to grid-connected renewable energy generation systems smaller than 500 kW that are intended primarily to offset the customer’s own electricity. A provision allows for the community solar gardens, including those in third-party locations, to qualify for NEM.

Supporters say the politically popular measure, which passed by a vote of 136-8 through the Vermont House and unanimously in the Senate, will be a boon for solar, wind and small-hydro energy.

"With the passage of this bill, renewable energy businesses can get back to work offering solar to all Vermonters, and we can keep our No. 1 ranking in solar jobs per capita," says Tom Hughes, chair of Renewable Energy Vermont, a nonprofit group backing the measure.

"We've seen millions of dollars of energy savings as a result of solar energy," says Gabrielle Stebbins, executive director of Renewable Energy Vermont. "Our transmission company has been able to defer large transmission projects as a result of more Vermonters generating clean energy, close to where it is needed in coordination with increased efficiency. This is smart energy, job, financial and climate policy."

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