Acadia Center released its latest “Value of Solar” study this month, this time quantifying the grid and societal benefits of solar photovoltaic systems (solar PV) in the state of Vermont. The study highlights the unique value solar PV provides to the electric grid by reducing energy demand, providing power during peak periods, and avoiding generation and related emissions charges from conventional power plants.
Through evaluating six solar PV systems, Acadia Center determined that the value of solar to the grid – and ratepayers connected to the grid – ranges from 19-23 cents/kWh in the Green Mountain State, with additional societal values of 7 cents/kWh. The societal values are based on broader societal benefits, including environmental gains from reduced or avoided greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants.
Vermont has been working to capitalize on the value of solar and other renewables already. In June, Vermont House Bill 40 was signed into law, creating a new requirement that 55 percent of the power sold by Vermont energy companies must come from renewable sources by 2017. That figure rises to 75 percent by 2032.
This target is the highest anywhere in the US except for Hawaii, which just enacted a law mandating the state use 100% renewable energy by 2045. However, because Vermont’s target can be met using energy from existing renewable energy plants, including hydro power, the overall requirement on its own is not projected to lead to new renewable energy facilities being built.
As a part of the total requirement, utilities are also required to use distributed generation equivalent to 1% of retail electric sales in 2017, and increasing annually to 10% by 2032. This is expected to lead to the build-out of over 400 MW of small-scale, decentralized electricity generation in Vermont, including solar PV.
This is not the first time Vermont has been ahead of other states in clean energy. At the beginning of the year Burlington, the state’s biggest city, announced it was using 100% renewable energy to meet its residents’ electricity needs, making it the first city in the country to do so.
As the state as a whole looks to reach the goals set by the new renewable energy standard, Acadia Center’s study will underline the value that solar provides to the grid and ratepayers.
Ellen Hawes is a senior analyst at Acadia Center focusing on energy systems, land use and carbon markets. She also leads Acadia Center’s participation in the New Hampshire State Energy Strategy process. Ellen received her Master in Forestry from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.