Rooftop with solar panels and the sun shining. Electric poles in the distance with an electric meter in the front of the photo.

Utility Buy-Back Programs

“True Net-Metering” vs. “Instantaneous Net-Metering”

When you venture into the world of solar energy, one of the crucial aspects to understand is how your utility handles the excess energy your solar system generates. This surplus electricity, when your home’s electrical needs are met and your batteries (if you have them) are full, flows back through your meter and into the grid. But not all utility buy-back programs are created equal. Let’s delve into the key differences between “True Net-Metering” and “Instantaneous Net-Metering”. 

Utility-Specific Programs

Every utility has its unique program for buying back excess solar energy from homeowners. These programs aim to strike a balance between encouraging solar adoption and maintaining grid stability. Here are some essential points to consider:

  • System Cap: Most utilities cap the size of a residential solar system eligible for their buy-back program, often at 10kW AC.
  • Repurchase Rate: The “avoided” wholesale purchase rate for surplus electricity can vary significantly between utilities. 
  • Net-Metering Fee: Many utilities impose a monthly net-metering fee, which can impact the financial benefits of solar for homeowners. 

“True” Net-Metering

With “True” net-metering, the meter does something unique – it runs both forwards and backwards. Here’s how it works:

When you consume more electricity than your solar system produces, you purchase the excess power at the retail rate.

  • You are only billed for the electricity you used above and beyond what you produced.
  • If your solar panels generate more power than you use, you receive a credit at the utility’s “avoided” rate per kWh.
  • Reconciliation occurs at the end of each billing cycle, ensuring a fair and transparent process.

“Instantaneous” Net-Metering

In the world of “Instantaneous” net-metering, things work a bit differently:

  • Whenever you draw power from the grid, you pay the retail rate.
  • When your solar system generates surplus power, you sell it back to the grid at the utility’s “avoided” rate per kWh.
  • Similar to “True” net-metering, reconciliation takes place at the end of each billing cycle.

For homeowners in this scenario, the goal is to make the most of the power they produce during the day; running appliances like the dishwasher, dryer or electric car charger during daylight hours or utilizing batteries for nighttime use becomes a strategic approach. 

Understanding Your Utility’s Approach

As you embark on this process, reach out to Southern View Energy at 678.833.5191 or email us for guidance on navigating the nuances of utility buy-back programs. Don’t let confusion about net-metering hold you back!

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