Letter: Share Electric Infrastructure Costs

To the Editor:

A Vermont company adopting a New Hampshire company’s billing structure would be a hard pill to swallow, but this pill would remedy what ails the small Vermont electric suppliers. The Aug. 19 article, “Vt. Utilities Try to Slow Solar Boom,” indicated that these small electric companies cannot recover the costs of maintaining poles, wires and other related costs when net-metered bills go to zero due to power fed back from personal solar or other alternative sources.

As a member of the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative, I used to begrudge paying the monthly “fixed member service charge” until I realized that segregating the costs of having the infrastructure to deliver that power was a pretty good idea. In that same thought process, net-metered customers require delivered power at times due to weather or conditions negative to solar or other sources. Even if not using that power year round, the infrastructure has to be there when power from the electric companies is needed.

The reality is that recovering fixed costs by incorporating them into one electric rate for everything but taxes does not work in a world that is trying to relieve stress on our environment and customers trying to relieve some of the stress on their wallets. The promise of the benefits of solar and other clean alternative power sources makes net-metering necessary but also makes recovering fixed costs and reasonable profit for electric companies a necessity through an alternate billing structure. This will allow them to survive and make a profit while waiting for those times when alternate energy sources don’t work for some customers.

Whatever is hindering this type of billing in Vermont, be it political or common sense, needs to be addressed. Those who are net-metered and others who use power only certain months of the year must realize that the comfort of having their electric company in an on-demand relationship comes with a cost. Not sharing that cost is an unfair burden on your neighbors. But if you are adamant, then disconnect from the grid.

Malcolm Love



Vt. Utilities Try to Slow Solar Boom

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Montpelier — When the tiny Washington Electric Cooperative Inc. announced last week it was moving to slow the growth of customers installing solar power systems and putting their extra electricity on the power grid, it brought to the fore a battle that had been brewing for years. The Shumlin administration, lawmakers and Vermont’s largest utility have been cheering the arrival …