The Ins and Outs of Net Metering

When it comes to solar energy in the form of electricity, you are going to need a special metering system that will determine or measure the amount of energy that a particular appliance is receiving.


If you are installing solar panel equipment, such as solar cells, batteries, reflectors and such, you should also include on your supply list a thermostat, power breaker and a meter for gauging the amount of kilowatts being used. As you can see, solar panels alone do not make for a solar system by itself.


If you are still using your conventional electric company to deliver all your electrical needs, you know that they keep up with how much electricity you are using by reading that meter sitting outside, on the side of your house. You might even have seen the meter person coming around to check your meter and then they type in the figures to their hand-held computerized instrument that feeds the information to your electrical supplier; and then in a week or two, presto - you have a bill that is out of control.


Well, with solar energy metering, you will not get such high readings because during the day, while your panels or wind turbine is hard at work, you are going to receive more energy than what you can possibly use in a 24 hour period, especially if you are at work for, say, 10 of those hours. When this happens, the excess power that is unused is sent to your utility company’s power grid, by way of the electric meter, which is then spinning backwards instead of going forward, and this in turn will release a reading of energy saved or stored.


If you are off grid, your utility company will or should supply you with a new meter, one that is called a 2-way digital meter. This form of metering is referred to as net metering.  When you are in this mode of metering, you can look forward to your power company giving you credit (or paying out cash to you) for the energy that your solar energy system creates in excess - after you produced more than you could use. As you know, your current conventional method does not pay you back anything, except for crediting your account for overpayment. For example, if you received a bill for $200.00, and you somehow wrote a check out for $300.00, that extra $100.00 will be given to your account for the following month’s bill, therefore, causing you to receive credit for $100.00, and if your next bill is $75.00, then you do not have to pay the current bill because you have credit for it already. You see, with the conventional way, that extra money you sent them is put it in the bank until it is all used up.


In simple terms, net metering is the difference between the electricity you buy from Miss Utility, and the electricity that you actually produce from your solar energy system.


When you are thinking about doing net metering, it would be wise to contact your electric company to see if they honor net metering. If so, you will probably have to sign an agreement and go through an approval process before receiving a new meter.


With net metering, when your solar energy is low, you can still receive support from your utility grid. Receiving power from the utility company, which is actually the excess that you have already produced, means you won’t have to use a generator or battery system because Miss Utility will have your back.


There are 25 states that offer net metering, some offer credit and some offer a payout in cash. New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania are among the 25; each with their own rules and regulations. So if you are lucky enough to live in any of these states, you should be good to go with your solar energy system and net metering.


Speaking of rules and regulations that come with your utility company; as an added resource tip to this article on net metering, I can’t help but remind you that though you have decided to use solar energy for your home, there may still be some rules and regulations that you must go through and follow with your electrical company whether you are on grid or not. You may even have to qualify for the net metering or be considered eligible. Regardless of what kind of system you are using, panels or wind turbines, you may have to adapt to new rules and regulations.


For a wind turbine system, it may have to meet standard electrical codes of your city or state, meeting all requirements for safety, wiring and installment. In other words, you may have to get a permit to even think about net metering for your system.


Again, check with your utility company to be on the safe side of installing and creating, and in being eligible for net metering whether you are using wind or any other solar alternative.


It’s better to be on the safe side than to have someone come along at any given time and tell you that you have to take it down because it is not up to code or that you didn’t get a permit before you began work on installing the system.

One thing’s for sure though, if your city regulates or sets standards for solar energy systems in your area and you do not follow them, you can kiss your tax break and cash pay outs good bye. Even if they say you need a qualified professional to do some electrical work, you better adhere and not try to do it yourself. After all, I believe they have ways of finding out when someone is trying to slip through the crack.

Here is an excellent video explaining Net Metering from Commonwealth Edison