Green Mountain Power launches solar program for low-income residents


Green Mountain Power (GMP) Green Mountain Power is a utility in Vermont that serves more than 270,000 residential and business customers with electricity that’s 100% carbon free and 78% renewable. It is the first utility in the world to get a B Corp certification, meeting rigorous social, environmental, accountability and transparency standards and committing to use business as a force for good. With the launch of two new programs, GMP aims to bring clean energy to income-qualified customers.

The Shared Solar Program (SSP) unlocks incentives in the federal Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to create a qualified low-income program that saves participants money. The other program, the Affordable Community Renewable Energy (ACRE) Pilot, will use a state grant to help eligible customers take part in new Vermont solar projects, providing them discounts for five years.

The Inflation Reduction Act, which was passed in August 2022, is hailed as the most important piece of climate legislation in U.S. history. One of the most significant provisions in the IRA is something the industry had been calling for for a long time: a long-term extension of the Investment Tax Credit. It also includes adders for things like electric vehicles, energy storage, and using U.S. -made products. Green Mountain Power’s Shared Solar Program aims to help customers put the tax credits to good use by helping them to invest in clean energy.. GMP will also look to add energy storage to the projects to create more benefits for all customers, increasing resiliency, strengthening the grid, and further lowering costs.

“These projects will help thousands of Vermonters who are low income reduce their monthly energy statements by unlocking financial benefits in the federal Inflation Reduction Act, all while boosting local solar energy,” said Candace Morgan, director of corporate and legislative affairs at Green Mountain Power. “We’re looking forward to seeing strong proposals from local solar developers to make sure we can connect our customers with cost-effective solar energy, and to partner with them to add storage to these projects too.”

The monthly savings for qualified customers will be in addition to discounts that customers can already receive through GMP’s energy assistance program (EAP). The funding from the federal and state programs allows GMP to provide discounts to participants while adding new solar at no increased cost, which GMP says further enhances the equity of these programs for all customers. GMP plans to start enrolling customers for solar savings as soon as this summer with projects starting to generate power by the end of the year.

“We know these new GMP solar programs are so important because they increase equity for those who need it most and serve a need that is currently unmet. We see this every day in CVOEO’s GreenSavingSmart Program in which our Financial Energy Coach works with Vermonters to navigate green energy choices available to them. Often, Vermonters who face financial challenges can’t go solar because they don’t own a home, or they have credit issues. GMP’s initiative will change that in a meaningful way,” said Paul Dragon, CEO of CVOEO.

GMP opened its request for proposals (RFP) from solar developers for the Shared Solar Program in December 2022, and the window to file proposals closes January 26, 2023. GMP received the ACRE grant award notice from the state of Vermont in December. GMP filed plans with Vermont regulators for both the Shared Solar and ACRE programs this week. Combined, the two programs equal at least 40 MW of new solar, or enough to power about 11,000 homes for a year.  Each program provides a path for federal funds that are intended to incentivize expansion of renewable energy production to directly benefit low-income customers.

“We are grateful for the leadership Green Mountain Power is providing to ensure low-income Vermonters can save money while also strengthening our local economy through the deployment of new renewable energy sources supported by the Federal Inflation Reduction Act,” said Jim Merriam, CEO of Norwich Solar, which plans to submit site proposals for the programs.

More information for solar developers interested in participating is available in the “What’s New” section of GMP’s Regulatory page.

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