Net Metering 101: Or, What Happens With Excess Solar Generation
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One of the questions we get a lot is “what happens with unused solar power?”
A grid-tied system optimizes a solar array so that it will produce the most solar power it possibly can, under all circumstances. The system is tied into your home’s electric panel, and the first priority for any solar power is to be used by your home’s electric loads: fridge, well pump, water or space heating, electronics, etc.
If you produce more solar power than you use (as will be the case for many customers during daytime hours, especially in summer) then your system will feed power out to the grid. This essentially treats the grid like a battery, ‘feeding’ the grid with clean solar energy that reduces the load on the local electricity grid (saving money for everyone). When this happens, your unused solar power becomes bill credits with your utility company which you can use when it’s not sunny.
Exact details vary state-by-state, but generally, you get a 1:1 credit under net metering. Every 1 kilowatt-hour of electricity you send into the grid, you get 1 kilowatt-hour of bill credit which will reduce your remaining power bill. Extra bill credits (like you will get in the summer) can be banked for use in less sunny times of the year (like in the winter).