When you go solar, you need a way to store the energy generated by your panels. You’ll often get more power from the sun than you can use in a day. When you produce more energy than your home can use, this extra energy is called offset. There are two things you can do with your offset. The easiest method is to hook into the utility grid to store energy and save it for later use.
But to do that, you’ll need to talk to your utility company and outline how you are credited and billed for power. These policies are referred to as net metering (or net energy metering) agreements.
Under a net metering agreement, the energy grid acts as energy storage for the solar homeowner, storing the power they generate so they can use it later. The utility tracks your meter to record your net energy usage (energy consumed minus energy sent to the grid) so they can bill or credit your account based on overall usage.
Each utility company has different terms and conditions, so it’s important to contact them before going solar to figure out how the connection process works. This article covers some of the most common agreements so you know what to expect. In the areas that we service, net-metering is pretty widely available so feel free to give us a call too if you aren’t sure if it’s available in your area.
Solar systems typically hit peak electricity production in the afternoon, when many people aren’t home using electricity. By contrast, home electricity use is typically higher in the mornings and evenings. Net metering helps you to account for these ups and downs in your day-to-day electricity production and usage.
With net metering, excess electricity is fed into your electric utility’s grid when your system is producing more than you need. When this happens, your meter actually runs in reverse. This is exactly what you want to happen. When your system isn’t producing enough electricity, you can draw it from your utility just as you did before you went solar. This “back-and-forth” between your system and the grid ensures that your excess production will still be used and your shortages will be met. With net metering, the excess electricity your home produces covers the times when you don’t produce enough.
When your solar power system generates more electricity than you use over the course of a month, your utility bill will receive a credit based on the net number of kilowatt-hours you gave back to the grid. If you produce less electricity than you use in a given month, you must buy electricity from your utility to make up the difference. In these instances, you would pay for the electricity you use, minus any excess electricity your solar panels generated.
Net metering isn’t required by law in every state. As of November 2017, 38 states and Washington, D.C. had passed laws requiring this form of utility metering for solar-powered customers. Alternative solar energy compensation programs are offered in seven states and one U.S. Territory. Keep in mind though, the federal government gives a 26% tax credit to those who choose to go solar.
NEM is legally mandated in Florida for photovoltaic solar energy, as well as various other renewable energy systems. The Florida Public Service Commission adopted Rule 25-6.065 in 2008. Florida Power and Light issues bill credits and even pays out compensation in January for credits that go unused for the year. There are also federal and state tax grants and credits that solar consumers can qualify for.
|State||Net Metering?||Alternative Policy?|
|District of Columbia||Yes||No|