What Is Net Metering?
Net metering is a billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they add to the grid. For example, if a residential customer has a PV system on their roof, it may generate more electricity than the home uses during daylight hours. If the home is net-metered, the electricity meter will run backwards to provide a credit against what electricity is consumed at night or other periods when the home's electricity use exceeds the system's output. Customers are only billed for their "net" energy use. On average, only 20-40% of a solar energy system’s output ever goes into the grid, and this exported solar electricity serves nearby customers’ loads.
Giving Customers Control Over Their Electricity Bills
Net metering allows utility customers to generate their own electricity cleanly and efficiently. During the day, most solar customers produce more electricity than they consume; net metering allows them to export that power to the grid and reduce their future electric bills.
Creating Jobs & Encouraging Private Investment
Net metering provides substantial economic benefits in terms of jobs, income and investment. Net metering increases demand for solar energy, which in turn creates jobs for the installers, electricians, and manufacturers who work in the solar supply chain. Today, the solar industry employs more than 250,000 American workers in large part due to strong state net metering policies which have allowed the solar industry to thrive.
Protecting the Electric Grid
Unfortunately, some utilities perceive net metering policies as lost revenue opportunities. In fact, net metering policies create a smoother demand curve for electricity and allow utilities to better manage their peak electricity loads. By encouraging generation near the point of consumption, net metering also reduces the strain on distribution systems and prevents losses in long-distance electricity transmission and distribution. There are a wide variety of cost-benefit studies around the country that demonstrate the value solar provides to local economies and the electricity system as a whole.
Want to support net metering policies in your state? Advocate for solar energy. Your voice counts!
Want to learn more about how net metering policies work with solar? Learn more about net metering and other solar topics on EnergySage.
Click on the map below to visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE), which catalogues various policies for renewable energy nationwide, including net metering. 38 states plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico have mandatory net metering rules in place.
Principles for the Evolution of Net Metering and Rate Design
In May 2017, SEIA worked with a broad array of stakeholders to develop a set of principles to guide the future of net metering and rate design.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the New York Public Service Commission (NYPSC) signaled that it will extend net metering through January 2022 for current customers based on the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on the solar industry. In addition, the NYPSC established modest changes to net metering that will impact future rooftop solar customers in 2022.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission today rejected a controversial petition to end state and local jurisdiction over net metering programs. The petition was brought by the New England Ratepayers Association (NERA) and drew significant bipartisan pushback from around the country.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Following is a statement from David Gahl, senior director of state affairs, northeast at the Solar Energy Industries Association, on the publication of the final SMART regulations from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER).