What is Net Metering?
Net Metering (NEM) is the system PG&E uses to credit you for solar production. NEM is based on the amount of energy your system produces relative to the amount of electricity your household consumes. Your account receives a “True Up” once a year, but you are sent monthly reports that offer a snapshot of energy used. You can expect these reports to reflect a debit balance during the winter months and a credit balance during the summer months.
How long until PG&E turns on NEM?
YES will file a NEM application on your behalf within 2 business days of your solar installation passing final inspection by the Building Department. PG&E requests as much as 30 business days to interconnect and activate NEM. However, during the past 2 years, PG&E typically takes 8-10 business days to complete the process. For solar systems with batteries, it typically takes closer to the full 30 business days.
Note: PG&E does not allow a NEM application without a signed & complete Permit.
How does billing work?
PG&E keeps a running monthly total of your usage, converted into a dollar value. They will send you a monthly “Solar Summary” report that shows your solar usage. 1 year after your interconnection, you will receive a “True-Up” statement. If you have a positive balance, you will be billed. If you have a negative balance, PG&E will not give you the full credit. Instead, they will give a statement credit at a wholesale rate, ~3.7¢ per extra kilowatt.
Essentially, you pay for electricity once a year. However, certain taxes for electricity and your gas bill will continue to be billed monthly.
My PG&E bill says that I am under a Community Choice Aggregation for electricity. Is billing with solar different?
If your PG&E bill includes Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), such as MCE Contra Costa, Peninsula Clean Energy, Silicon Valley Clean Energy, or other CCAs, Net Metering works a bit differently, depending on the policy of the individual CCA. Most of these programs will continue to bill monthly for electricity rather than annually.
If you have extra credits for a higher producing month such as July (months where solar systems typically produce more electricity than a home or business consumes), that extra credit will carry over to offset the next month and so on.
For lower solar-producing months, such as January (months where solar systems typically produce less electricity than a home or business consumes), any available credits will be applied first. Any balance leftover will then be billed.
Different CCAs have different policies so please check directly with your CCA for their specific Net Metering policy.
My solar system is generating power, the meter is spinning backwards, but NEM has not been activated. What is happening to the extra power?
If your solar system is turned on, you may enjoy using the power generated from your solar system. Extra power not used immediately will go to the grid to power neighboring homes & businesses. However, you will not earn any credit for this extra production. Credits for extra production to offset night and cloudy days will be earned once NEM is activated.
How do I know when NEM is turned on?
PG&E issues a “Permission to Operate” letter for your solar system, which activates NEM. You can also contact us anytime for an update. In addition, you can check by contacting PG&E.
How do I verify NEM is working?
Log into your PG&E account and look up your “Usage”. On a sunny day, your system should produce more power than you use. PG&E will show this as “negative” usage.
How do PG&E credits work?
Let’s say you are on PG&E’s EV-A plan, a time of use plan available to electric vehicle (EV) owners only. The benefits of this plan are low rates to charge your EV overnight (11 PM – 7 AM). Here are sample summer rates for the plan:
7 AM – 2 PM: 22.282¢ per kWh (partial-peak)
2 PM – 9 PM: 42.464¢ per kWh (peak)
9 PM – 11 PM: 22.282¢ per kWh (partial-peak)
11 PM – 7 AM: 9.746¢ per kWh (off-peak)
On a time-of-use plan, you are afforded the opportunity to “buy low” and “sell high”. If you produce more electricity than you use during the peak hours, you are “selling” it at a rate of 42.464¢ per kWh. At night when there is no solar production and you are charging your EV, you are “buying” electricity at 9.746¢ per kWh. Essentially, for every kWh you are giving PG&E, you are getting back ~4.36 kWh. However, note that peak hours extend into the night, at 9 PM.
Why are the numbers on my online solar monitoring portal higher than the PG&E website?
The online solar monitoring portal tracks total system production. With solar, your home immediately uses the generated electricity to power all appliance that might be on during the day, such as the refrigerator, computers, lights, etc. Only extra electricity not immediately by the home will pass though the PG&E SmartMeter. Only this extra electricity is tracked by PG&E.
PG&E does not track total solar production. They only track how much electricity passes though their SmartMeter.
Thus, PG&E’s website and bill will only shows how much extra electricity was sent to the grid (extra solar production not immediately used, shown as “Consumption“) vs taken from the grid (during little to no solar production, such as nights or cloudy days, shown as “Net Generation“). The sum of these these two numbers provides your “Net Usage”, and is shown on your PG&E bill.
To calculate how much electricity your home actually consumed, take the sum of your Solar Production (reported on the monitoring portal) and your Net Usage (reported on your PG&E bill) for the same time periods.
Actual Consumption = Solar Production + Net Usage
Is there an example of how to calculate how much electricity my house consumed for a particular day?
Suppose for a particular day, your solar system reports solar production 40 kW of electricity. Also, on that same particular day, PG&E reports that your Net Usage is -10 kW (a negative Net Usage number means that more electricity was produced than consumed). To calculate how much electricity your home consumed, add up these two numbers:
Consumption = Solar Production + Net Usage = (40 kW) + (-10 kW) = 30 kW
Therefore, for this particular day, your home consumed 30 kW of electricity.
As a second example, suppose on another day, your solar system reports solar production of 25 kW and on that same day, PG&E reports that your Net Usage is 15 kW (a positive Net Usage number means more electricity was consumed than produced). To calculate how much electricity your home consumed, add up the two numbers:
Consumption = Solar Production + Net Usage = (25 kW) + (15 kW) = 40 kW
Therefore, for this particular day, your home consumed 40 kW of electricity.
Why does PG&E’s Permission to Operate letter show a smaller solar system size than what I ordered?
YES installed your system based on its DC size. But PG&E rates your system based on its AC size. The conversion from DC to AC is approximately 80%. This is the simple explanation of why the permission to operate letter shows a smaller system than what you ordered.
The technical explanation involves manufacture ratings vs. real world measurements. Manufacturers of solar panels market their products based on their STC (Standard Test Condition) rating. STC is measured in the factory when the panel is new and totally clean and free of dust & dirt, in a climate-controlled facility. Essentially, replicating conditions that can only be created in a lab. But in the real world, the panels experience dirt, temperature fluctuations, etc. So, tests have been created by the California Electric Initiative (CEC) and California’s Solar Initiative (CSI) where a real world rating gets assigned to the panel. This is known as the PTC (Photovoltaic Test Condition) rating, and it is the maximum production possible under real world conditions. PG&E requires us to report the system’s PTC rating on the NEM application.
Our production guarantee takes these test methods into account ensuring your electric production.
Why does PG&E’s Permission to Operate letter show a different expected annual production than what I was given?
PG&E uses a constant multiplier of 1664 kilowatts throughout its territory for determining annual production. This number is strictly for PG&E’s internal use and has no bearing of actual production.
The expected annual production provided by Your Energy Solutions factors in: (1) Direction of your roof (2) Angle of your roof (3) Where your home is located (4) Expected shade. PG&E’s estimated production does not factor in any of these variables.
How long will PG&E guarantee my NEM plan?
You can keep your Net Metering agreement with PG&E for 20 years from the date you receive your Permission to Operate. During this time, PG&E may make changes to the NEM program for new solar systems, but they do not affect current NEM agreements.
Note: The Net Metering agreement is tied to the home, not a person. If you sell your home, the grandfathered Net Metering rules will pass to the new owner. You cannot “take” the agreement with you to a new residence. If you install solar at your new residence, Net Metering rules will be subject to the then current PG&E rules. Full details regarding these changes can be found here.
What rate plan should I choose?
The best rate plan depends on your usage patterns. Contact PG&E to discuss your options.
How do I change my rate plan?
PG&E cannot change your rate plan while your Net Metering application is pending. Once NEM is active, you may change your rate plan (i.e.: changing from base tier to time of use) by contacting PG&E at 800.743.5000. The new rate plan will take effect at the next billing cycle.
I may have more questions in the future.
Solar is about the sun and we don’t want you to feel like you’re left in the dark today or at any point in the future. So contact us and we’ll be glad to provide you with “Sunny Support”.