Back to Basics: Net Metering

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SOLAR POWER is on the rise! In 2014, a new solar project was installed every 2.5 minutes!  As more people look to GO SOLAR, the most commonly asked questions are usually:

  1.  What happens when I produce more power during the day than I need?
  2.  How can I use the electricity generated during the day at night?

Both of these questions are addressed with the concept of net metering.

Daytime

Power generated by your solar system during the day is first used by your home.  Any excess electricity generated is sent back to the utility grid for use later.  This is called a “grid-tied” system and is only feasible through the practice of net metering.

Nighttime

While battery storage remains expensive, despite the excitement over Tesla’s PowerWall, net metering allows for effective storage of your over-generated electricity during the day.  The excess electricity produced during the day gets sent back to the grid and “stored” for use in the evening or on cloudy days.  This is seen on your bill in the form of credits which can roll over month-to-month until the end of the energy year (determined by your utility company), at which time you will be paid out for your unused credits.

Benefits

Net metering is a clever way for solar energy customers to avoid the high storage costs of battery systems which can often double the cost of a project.  The benefit is clear to homeowners- who can effectively store their excess energy for times when they can’t produce it- but even utilities are seeing benefits.  While some claim that net metering passes on cost to non-solar utility customers, cost-benefit studies in New York, Vermont, Missouri, Texas, and Nevada  have shown that everyone can benefit from net metering.  Using electricity produced on-site to power your home reduces strain on an already heavily burdened and aged utility grid.

Currently 44 states have adopted net metering. Visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency to see what incentives and programs are available in your state.