Net Metering

What is net metering?

At any given time, you may not be able to use all the electricity your solar panels generate. When your solar array is producing more power than you need, the excess power flows out through your electric meter and is used by nearby homes or other buildings. When your panels are producing less power than you need, or there isn’t enough sunlight to meet your consumption needs (e.g. at night), your house automatically draws additional energy from the electric grid.

Net metering is the policy that allows you to receive credit for the extra electricity your solar panels generate. The “net” energy that you’ve used at the end of your billing period (electricity used minus electricity generated) is what determines your final monthly electricity bill.

Net metering policies

Some net metering policies are better than others. We believe utilities should value the electricity you generate at the same rate as the energy you purchase. However, some state laws allow utilities to compensate solar owners at lower rates and/or tack on additional service fees and charges. A bad net metering policy can significantly extend the time it takes to pay back your solar system.

Fighting for fair net metering policies for solar owners is one of our most important priorities at Solar United Neighbors.

What happens if I generate more power than I use?

It depends on your state or utility net metering policy. In most cases, if your solar array has generated more electricity than your home has used within a single billing period, the excess rolls over onto your next electric bill. It’s like ‘rollover minutes’ for your cell phone.

How rooftop solar & net metering benefit the electricity grid

Rooftop solar energy has been shown to be a net positive for the electric grid and non-solar consumers as well as for solar owners. Locally produced solar energy avoids the high costs of transmitting electricity over long distances from centrally located power plants. This has been confirmed by numerous independent studies, many of which observe that solar provides energy during times of peak demand, when that power is most valuable.

Is net metering a subsidy?

No. Unfortunately, we hear this argument a lot. Net metering is about fairly compensating solar generators for the energy they create. It protects your right as a property owner to self-generate your own energy. Numerous independent studies by third parties and state utility commissions prove the benefits of net metering extend far beyond solar customers and far outweigh the minimal direct cost to utilities.

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