Solar Panels are a Waste of Taxpayer and Ratepayer Money for the Environmental Benefits Achieved.
Solar proponents (https://solarpowerrocks.com/vermont/) advertise a 9.9% annual rate of return over the life of a 5 kw solar project, which costs about $20,000. Investors can claim a first year tax credit of 30%, or $6000. The electric utility is required to credit 5.4 cents per kw in addition to 100% of the cost of any excess electricity produced by the panels not consumed by the owner. The utility also must credit 100% of the cost of providing poles, lines, transformers and maintenance for the transmission system, which is then passed on to other ratepayers. Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) provide about 4 cents per kw. Towns are not allowed to charge property taxes for the panels even though they add $20,000 to the value of the property. The state charges no sales tax for the roughly $15,000 worth of equipment.
These subsidies add up to profits which are tens of thousands of dollars more than the value of the electricity produced by the solar panels. Its free money for the investors, so who can blame them for taking advantage of such a windfall? However, as the above mentioned website inadvertently points out, there is a much cheaper and simpler way of accomplishing the same environmental benefit.
According to the above mentioned website a 5 kw solar installation will have the same environmental benefit as planting 106 trees each year. The Nature Conservancy's Plant a Billion Tree program plants trees for $1 each on average.
Let's stop littering Vermont's high value landscape with solar panels. Let taxpayers and ratepayers keep their money instead of subsidizing solar panels and instead encourage the legislature to allow people to take a tax deduction for $106 through the Nature Conservancy's Plant-a-Billion Trees program? (http://www.plantabillion.org/frequently-asked-questions/)
Of course, if you want to buy solar panels to reduce your own dependence on the grid, that's your choice. But the rest of us should not pay for it.