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You Are Here: Home > Learn About Solar Energy > Net (Energy) Metering

Net Metering

What is Net Metering?

Net metering is a special billing arrangement for electricity customers with renewable energy systems, such as solar electricity systems, that permits customers to get credit for the full retail value of the electricity that their system generates. Under net metering, the customer's electric meter keeps track of how much surplus electricity is generated by the renewable energy system and sent back into the electric utility grid, and how much electricity is consumed by the customer. Over a 12 month period, the customer has to pay only for the net amount of electricity they utilize from their utility over-and-above the amount of electricity generated by their renewable electric system (in addition to monthly customer transmission, distribution, and meter service charges they incur).

How does Net Metering work?

At any time of the day, a customer's renewable electric system may produce more or less electricity than their home or business requires. When "excess" electricity is produced by the solar electric system, it will automatically go through the electric meter into the utility grid to be supplied to other customers on the grid. When this happens, the meter runs backwards. At other times of the day, the customer's electric demand may be higher than the renewable energy system is producing, and the customer relies on the additional power requirements from the utility.

What is the benefit of Net Metering?

The benefit of net metering is the electricity generated by your solar or wind electric system will be valued at the full retail electricity rates you pay for solar and small wind generators. This means that your system should save you more money than if you did not have net metering.

Am I Eligible for Net Metering?

You are eligible for net metering if you are a customer of an electric utility in California, you generate at least some of your electricity using solar or wind electric systems or other qualified generating technologies, and your generating system's peak capacity output is 1,000 kW or less. Your electric electric system must be located on the premise that uses the electricity. To take part, you must apply and receive approval from your utility to have your system interconnected to the electricity utility grid.

How will I be billed under Net Metering?

Under a net metering agreement, your utility will continue to read your meter each month and you will receive a monthly statement indicating the net amount of electricity you consumed or exported to the utility grid during that billing period. If you are a residential or small commercial customer, you have the option of paying the utility for your net consumption each month or annually. Please contact your utility for billing options.

What size should my solar electric system be?

A customer's solar electric system should be sized to produce no more than their expected annual electricity needs. Although a minimum size is not required, most residential systems average between two and four kilowatts. Your system size depends on your electricity needs and how much electricity you want to generate. You can also start building your system by starting small and expanding over time. As long as your total system output is no greater than one megawatt, this modular approach is acceptable.

Please keep in mind that the electric rates the utility charges increase in tiers as you use more and more electricity. A smaller electric system that satisfies part of your electric needs may be more cost-effective to you because you will be avoiding the higher tier rates, while you are still purchasing the lower cost electricity from the utility for your needs.

If my solar electric system produces more electricity than I use over a 12-month period, is my utility required to buy it from me?

Utilities are not required to purchase any surplus electricity you produce at the end of each 12-month period of your net metering agreement.

How do I sign up?

We offer a free info packet and free solar consultation to assess your energy needs. It is free and there is no obligation. We'll provide a personalized quote specific to your energy requirements.

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