Going for Solar – Becoming a Net Generator

Our March 2011 Electric Bill - No Payment Due
Our March 2011 Electric Bill – No Payment Due

That didn’t take long, it took longer to write and publish this post. As soon as the days started getting longer our solar awning started generating more and more electricity.  So much so that when we got our March electric bill (2/17-3/22) we were shocked that we didn’t owe a penny.  Amazing!  We actually earned a credit of $0.49.

As we looked at the bill closer, we discovered that we were net-generators of 35 kWh of electricity that month.  That also helped illuminate how the net metering in Massachusetts really works.

Section of our March 2011 Electric Bill showing net-generation of 35 kWh from Solar PV Awning
Section of our March 2011 Electric Bill showing
net-generation of 35 kWh from Solar PV Awning

How Net Metering Works in Massachusetts

I was under the impression that we would somehow be credited in kWh and that we’d have a virtual bank of energy credits with the utility, but that isn’t exactly how it works where we live.  Instead, we are credited a value of 12.85¢/kWh for each kWh generated beyond what we use.  That rate is really close to what we pay for our electricity at 13.57¢/kWh including the various distribution charge and other charges.  I know in some states, residential solar customers only get the generation charge of about 8¢/kWh.

Residential R-1 Electricity Rates in MA Mar 2011
Total COE $0.13571/kWh
  Delivery   $0.05488/kWh
  Generation   $0.08083/kWh
Net-Metering Credit $0.12851662/kWh

Here are a few other sections from our electric bills showing the different charges we pay and credits we receive for electricity.

Example of distribution and other charges from our Feb 2011 electric bill

Example of supply charges from our Feb 2011 electric bill
Example of supply charges from our Feb 2011 electric bill

In addition to the cost of the electricity, we pay $4/month customer charge for being connected to the grid. Money well spent in my book since we get continuous access to electricity even when our solar panel are not producing enough electricity, like at night.

Details from our March 2011 electric bill showing credit of $0.49
Details from our March 2011 electric bill showing credit of $0.49

I am still not sure what happens if we are net electricity producers for the year, but since our system is designed to meet about 90% of our annual electricity needs, I suspect that we won’t be finding that out until we continue to decrease our electricity load in our home.  If you want to find out more about the net-metering terms where you live, or other renewable energy and energy efficiency incentives, check out the resource post I wrote about the Database of State Incentives for Renewable and Efficiency (DSIRE).

Happy Greening!
Jon

solar PV awning
Going for Solar Series

To learn more about residential solar installations, check out our series Going for Solar, which details every step from dreaming about installing solar, through picking a contractor and the steps in construction.  We provide information and advice for every step of the way, as well as different approaches such as paying for it yourself versus leasing a system.  Don’t miss the steps on how much money we saved during our first year of usage!



Comments

  1. That is amazing! I have heard that the high electricity rate in MA (compared to other areas of the country) actually helps make solar a real option – takes less time to recoup your initial costs.

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