Generating solar energy with a residential solar electric system has become much more efficient in the last ten years — almost too efficient, in fact.
With all of the sunshine that both Colorado and Texas get each year, homeowners who harness the energy of the sun to power their homes are actually generating more electricity than they can use. This begs the question, where does that energy go if it isn’t being used?
Net Metering: Understanding the Process
Let’s start with how your home uses electricity, without a solar electric system installed.
Calculating Energy Use without Solar Panels
Your home is connected to the power grid via your local power utility company, and as your home uses electricity for lights and appliances, your electricity meter counts the amount of electricity you use. You then receive a bill at the end of the month that charges you for the total kilowatt hours your home used.
When you have a solar system installed, you are still connected to the power grid but your energy usage is calculated a little differently, especially during the peak sunlight hours:
Calculating Energy Use with Solar Panels
Your home uses the free and renewable electricity from your solar panels as it is generated, leaving your electricity meter static. Then, when the sun is at its peak (usually in the afternoon) and you are generating more electricity than your home needs, your electricity meter runs backwards as that excess power is sent back to the grid.
After the sun goes down, your home starts to draw power from the grid again and the meter runs forward. At the end of the month, you are only charged for the “net” energy your home used.
What Does a Net Metering Bill Look Like?
In months when your solar panels generated more energy than you used in your home, you may see a bill of $0.00, and receive an energy credit that is carried over to the next month. Conversely, if you ended up drawing more power from the grid, you are charged only for the amount that exceeded the solar energy your system generated.
Net Metering in Colorado
In 2008, the state of Colorado enacted net-metering-specific legislation that requires any municipal utility with more that 5,000 customers to offer net metering for residential solar systems (up to 10 kWh) and commercial solar systems (up to 25 kWh).
Net Metering in Texas
CPS utility customers in San Antonio can take advantage of net metering with no system size limits. This is offered for both residential and commercial customers.
Austin Energy currently offers net metering to customers with commercial solar systems, but not to those with residential systems.
Take Advantage Of Net Metering With CAM Solar
Net metering combines the renewable energy of solar with the dependability of your local power utility. Advances in solar panel technology have made going solar more viable than ever, and homeowners in San Antonio, TX and Denver, CO are uniquely poised to take advantage of the year round sunshine. CAM Solar has been the premiere solar contractor for installing solar electric systems in Texas and Colorado since 1990 and carries those years of expertise in customer service and installation to each and every job. If you still have questions about net metering and going solar, the experts at CAM Solar are here to help.