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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 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. The state legislature sent the bill to Shumlin last week.

"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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