Net Metering

What Is Net-Metering?

When the solar panels on your roof create electricity it is put to use to power things that are on and using energy in your home. Any extra energy produced by your solar energy system that is not being used by you is sent to the utility. When that happens, your electric meter will actually run backwards!

A utility’s “net metering” program usually means that they’re committed or required to buying power from you at the same rate as they sell it to you. Net metering allows you to use the electric utility grid a little like a bank account. You can put electricity into it that you don't use immediately and you can withdraw the same amount later on at no net cost to you.

Net metering generally lasts for a whole year, so you can build credit in the summer for those darker winter days. It measures the difference between the electricity you purchase from the utility and the electricity you’re generating with your solar energy system.

Federal Laws

Under a federal law, all public electric utilities are required to make net metering available to their customers. There are differences in the programs in states; for example, some have a limit on the number of subscribers who can be using net metering at any time. Almost all have a limit on the wattage for each subscriber. Also, individual utilities may credit you a wholesale rate instead of a retail rate you pay them or install a “Time of Use” meter that varies rates based usage and demand.  Ask your Sun Wave Solar professional about net metering in your area.

Eligibility in California

You’re eligible for net energy metering as long as you are a retail customer of an electric utility in California. You must generate at least some of your electricity using solar or wind energy or other qualified generating technologies on your premise. You generating system's peak capacity output must be 1,000 kW or less. To participate, you must apply and receive approval from your utility to have your system interconnected to the electricity utility grid.

If you already have a solar energy system, contact your electric utility and request an application for net energy metering. The utility will outline the requirements for safely connecting your generating system to the grid. If you are or will be participating in a state or utility-sponsored incentive program, the application process will require your system to be interconnected to the utility.

Additional and Future Pricing (Tariff) Options for Solar Systems for California

There are 3 major pricing or "tariff" options for solar customers:

  1. Net Energy Metering, which will include net surplus compensation by 2011 where customers can receive compensation at the end of the year if they produce more electricity with their solar system than they consume from the grid.
  2. Virtual Net Metering, which allows the electricity produced by a single solar installation to be credited toward multiple tenant accounts in a multifamily building without requiring the solar system to be physically connected to each tenant's meter. For now, this program is only available as a pilot program to multifamily affordable housing, but the CPUC is currently considering expanding the program in the future.
  3. Renewable Energy Self-Generation - Bill Credit Transfer (RES-BCT), which enables solar customers transfer excess credits to another account. This works similar to net metering, but any production credits that normally would be received by the consumer can be transferred to another account.

For more information on these tariff options, please contact your utility.



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