According to the Solar Energy Industries Association , “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 the home’s rooftop, 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 where the home’s electricity use exceeds the system’s output. Customers are only billed for their “net” energy use. On average, only 20-40 percent of a solar energy system’s output ever goes into the grid. Exported solar electricity serves nearby customers’ loads.”
Different utilities have different net metering policies. Here is what Duke Energy Indiana says about renewable generating options and net metering in its territory. Indiana Electric Cooperatives (IEC) represents Indiana’s 38 REMCs, each with its own net metering or similar policies. Drill down on the REMC map to see their websites for more information.
For an excellent analysis of the policy issues involved in net metering from both the consumer side and the utility side, see “The Net Metering Riddle” by Karl R. Rábago, the Executive Director of the Pace Energy and Climate Center at the Pace Law School in White Plains, New York.
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