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What is Solar Net-Metering?
An electric "Net Meter" is bi-directional: It registers both incoming and outgoing kwh's. Customers generating their own power with a solar photovoltaic (PV) system will of course have lower billed electric usage even with standard metering. But with net-metering, customers with PV are rewarded for exporting power back onto the City's electric grid - those exported kWh's subtract from their monthly total of utility-provided kWh's, which are the basis for utility billing.
Here's how it happens: Sometimes a home or business with rooftop solar PV will generate more electric power than can be used. In homes, this can happen on sunny weekdays when no one's home. In businesses, it can happen on sunny weekends when no one's at work. A two-way net meter registers incoming as well as outgoing kWh's. Every outgoing kWh subtracts from the total number of kWh's registered and billed for that month. The customer in effect "sells" power back to the grid at the full retail electric kWh rate, including taxes.
At the end of a billing period, depending on sunshine, energy usage, and the PV system size, the total billed kWh could be a positive number, a negative number, or zero. If negative, those "negative" kWh's are carried over to the next month as kWh Credits - they're banked in the meter.
Some interesting questions arise with net-metering:
- Does the City ever write a check to the customer for excess power production?
No. It's a system of kWh credits. The credits are banked by the meter. Credits carry over month to month, but not year to year. The year-end in this case is marked according to the net metering anniversary date.
- If the City bills me for "net" metered kWh's, how do I know how much energy was used in my home, how much my PV system produced, and how much was sent back to the City's grid?
The City's metering doesn't answer those questions. The City's net meter only registers the "net" energy amount. Your PV system's inverter probably displays the running total of kWh (alternating current) production since system installation - you can determine monthly PV production by reading the inverter monthly and recording the production totals (subtract the earlier month's total from the later to get a monthly production amount in kWh).
- Is there any charge for having a City net meter installed?
No. The customer signs a PV Interconnect agreement that requires some detailed information about the PV system. There are design and inspection requirements applicable to the PV system. But no charge for net-metering.
- For larger commercial customers, will net metering lower the monthly Demand (kW) billing?
No, with regard to Demand billing, a net meter is no different than a standard meter. With either type of metering, if PV power production peaks at noon but the business power usage peaks at 4:00 p.m., the presence of PV generation may lower monthly demand billing very little if at all.
City of Tallahassee Electric customers with Solar Photovoltaic (PV) generating systems and Solar Net-Metering can register kWh credits when producing more electricity than they can use. Call 891.4YOU (4968) and ask to speak to someone in the Energy Services department to learn more about this technology. Download the solar net-metering interconnection agreement form now.