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What is net-metering and is it the right solar program for me?

When you look into buying a solar system, it is impossible to read articles and frequently-asked-questions across the internet and not come across the topic of net-metering.

After reading through endless pages, you’re probably wondering: is it for me?

First, let’s start with the basics.

What is Net-Metering?

Net-metering is a program wherein excess energy generated from your solar system can be sold back for credits towards your energy cost.

This program is often hosted through the electric utility companies that serve a particular area and provide the benefit of staying connected to the grid while cutting your power bill.

This allows the solar system owner to pay back their system by gaining credits to lower their bill, while the electrical company is able to provide more power without using more resources.

What type of pricing models are there?

Currently, there are two popular forms of pricing models that many utilities use: General Rate and Time-of-Use.

1. General Rate is just as it sounds – the energy you provide to the grid is credited a regular rate of a select price per kilowatt hour.

If the rate was 18 cents for example, for every kilowatt hour you provide to the grid, you would earn credit towards your next bill.

Conversely, for every kilowatt hour you took from the grid, you would pay 18 cents.

2. A Time-of-Use scheme takes a more focused approach when energy usage is high (and costly) and low (and cheaper).

Under a Time-of-Use pricing scheme, the energy you generate during the day is sold back to your electrical utility at a high rate due to the high demand, and you then pay for power in the energy when it is cheaper.

This works well for many solar system owners as it allows them to make a profit during the day when they are generating the most energy, and tap into the grid in the evening for cheaper energy, allowing you to pay off your system sooner.

What if the Grid Goes Down?

For all net-metering solutions, you must be connected to the power grid so you can both provide and take energy as needed.

If the grid were to go down, your solar system would as well – and for good reasons.

The first is that solar power is a fluctuating energy, which is why the power grid supplements it.

If the grid goes down and you aren’t able to meet your current energy needs (never mind the rest of those on the grid), then it could cause your system to short-circuit which can lead to system damage.

The second is purely for safety: the electrical utility will have sent power line technicians to investigate and fix the cause of the blackout.

If you are still pushing energy to the grid, you could seriously injure the men and women working to get the power back online.

Will the Pricing Change?

The price of both solar energy systems and the energy itself will change – and is doing so all the time (often for the better).

The cost of a solar system alone has decreased dramatically in the last ten years.

Have a Few More Questions?

If you’re starting to consider installing a solar system in your home to take advantage of a net-metering program in your area, we can help.

Drop us a line through the form below and get the conversation started today, toward a greener tomorrow (and cheaper) tomorrow.