Net-Metering seems to vary a lot

Net-Metering seems to be very different in many areas of the US and world. Since this forum is in Arizona I would like to hear about details from many other areas. Only the not for profit Government entity SRP offers equal real net-metering in Arizona so far. The Corporation Commission in AZ is still looking at net-metering. The DESIRE website and many other actually list the state of AZ as having net-metering for many utilities but it is really just avoided cost at 3 to 4 cents per Kilowatt hour.
In Germany they pay 8 times what you get charged. That's why solar has really taken off in Germany. Spain may also offer a similar incentive metering plan.
In California they have a State law that gives real net-metering. It even covers Time of Day metering at the same equal rates.

Let us know what plans you have in your area and how good they are.

Comments

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,608 admin
    Re: Net-Metering seems to vary a lot

    Are you in California?... Anyway, here are the net metering rules California.

    http://www.dsireusa.org/library/includes/incentive2.cfm?Incentive_Code=CA02R&state=CA&CurrentPageID=1&RE=1&EE=0

    A few interesting points--The original limit was 0.5% of utility's aggregate customer peak demand.--both NoCal and SoCal were rapidly approaching the limits--Cal Leg. raised limits no to 2.5%

    Also, since nothing is free--I liked this statement: "California law provides for retail cost recovery of revenue loss from net-metered biogas digesters." Can you say "higher bills for the average customer"?...

    Anyway, the meat of the rules:
    Net excess generation (NEG) is carried forward to a customer's next bill for up to 12 months. Any NEG remaining at the end of each 12-month period is granted to the customer's utility. Customers subject to time-of-use rates are entitled to deliver electricity back to the system for the same time-of-use (including real-time) price that they pay for power purchases. However, time-of-use customers who choose to net meter must pay for the metering equipment capable of making such measurements. Customer-generators retain ownership of all renewable-energy credits (RECs) associated with the generation of electricity.

    California does not allow any new or additional demand charges, standby charges, customer charges, minimum monthly charges, interconnection charges, or other charges that would increase an eligible customer-generator's costs beyond those of other customers in the rate class to which the eligible customer-generator would otherwise be assigned. The CPUC has explicitly ruled that technologies eligible for net metering (up to 1 MW) are exempt from interconnection application fees, as well as from initial and supplemental interconnection review fees.

    Go here for a 50 state list of rules and incentives:

    http://www.dsireusa.org/index.cfm?EE=0&RE=1

    Regarding the billing rates for residential PG&E, you can see all rate plans (gas and electric) here:

    http://www.pge.com/tariffs/

    Under electric rates:

    http://www.pge.com/tariffs/ERS.SHTML#ERS

    The standard home rate is "E1" and depending on if you use natural gas for heating/hot water/cooking or not, your "baseline" discount rate (~300 kWhrs/per month for me with a natural gas connection) is the "cheap" rates... As you use more power, you can pay upwards of 2-5x as much for each kWhr over baseline (prices are around $0.11 to $0.25 / kWhr depending on your particular usage). Typical bill is around 600 kWhrs (no AC, nice climate) to around 1,500-2,500 kWhrs per month for very heavy home users (just a guesstimate on my part).

    There is a really nice Time of Use rate called "E-7"... Good off peak rates and the on-peak match pretty much with when solar power is generated--I am almost always in the "net generation" column the entire year for this rate plan (don't use much electricity from Noon-6pm, Mon-Fri). Peak rates are pretty high, meaning I get lots of $olar Monie$ to use during cheap off peak rates (especially during the spring/summer period when peak rates are very high).

    However, the down side was this was so good to the customer (me) that it has not been closed off for new customers... There is an alternative rate plan "E6" available which has peak, part-peak, and off-peak times... and the times go much more into the evening (8-9pm, even on weekends) when solar does not generate power--This does not seem to be a good plan for the average solar user--but it is hard to tell without a lot of power measurements and monitoring--who in the heck wants to even try and figure this out (which plan is best).

    In reality, the E6 plan is much more neutral towards customers and the utility than the E7 plan--much closer tracking to how electricity is used in California (there are peaks around 8 pm that sometimes almost equal the afternoon power peaks).

    Also, there is a nasty little gotcha with BaseLine rates... BaseLine power tier (the ~300 watts a month for me) is used when consuming and generating power. So, if I generate 300 kWatthrs during peak time, I have to pay a higher rate to use power during off-peak times because I generated so much power--has not happened to me yet--but has happened to others with larger arrays.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,608 admin
    Re: Net-Metering seems to vary a lot

    By the way, regarding Germany:

    http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=146922
    Germany is perhaps the most generous. It has fixed the price of renewable power for the next 20 years on a sliding scale that will decline over time. Certain solar projects will receive as much as 0.57 euros (73 cents) for each kilowatt-hour of electricity generated, compared with the going rate for dirtier power of around 0.05 euros. In normal circumstances, Germany would be a terrible place to install solar panels: it is not very sunny and has a good distribution grid, which solar does not require. But thanks to its “feed-in tariff”, it is the biggest solar market in the world.

    Around the world governments like Germany's have pledged billions, or in some cases unlimited sums, to advance the clean-energy cause. In the process, enthusiasts claim, they have “pre-booked” growth. Supporters argue that these subsidies are reasonable, since they encourage a worthwhile cause-the fight against global warming-that markets do not seem to prize highly enough.

    And from Wind-Sun:

    http://www.wind-sun.com/smf/index.php?topic=1895.msg13655#msg13655
    From Wind-S2--owner of this site

    Well, we are starting to see signs that the solar price bubble is about to burst. We just dropped all our prices on panels around 4%, and all of a sudden in the past few weeks we are not seeing much of a panel shortage anymore for most. It wold not surprise me to see another 3-5% drop over the next couple of months, but no real way to predict that.

    Apparently one major factor is that the bottom has fallen out of the German market, with sales down as much as 70% since last summer.

    And, an article on the solar pv price drops and consolidation:

    http://renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/reinsider/story?id=46521
    The German market will consume considerably fewer modules in 2006 compared to last year. Precise figures are still not available, but everybody within this market is convinced.

    The feed-in tariff decreased 5% at the start of this year. At the same time the module shortage was moving toward its peak. Basic financial calculations showed that PV installations and, moreover the larger free-field power plants, were no longer as attractive as they were in 2005.

    Simply count the new large projects inaugurated in Germany in 2006: fewer large power plants means significantly fewer megawatts (MW). With Germany being the world's largest market, a drop of 10-15% in module sales means some 100-150 MW of modules can be sold elsewhere, and the predictions that can be heard within this market are: sales of 600 MW or even less in 2006 instead of the 730 or more in 2005.

    Only a drop of 5%-10% incentives appears to be enough to really tank sales in Germany--Will not be a fun time for current solar PV panel manufacturers...

    Also, does anyone know much about making of solar panels... I saw a video once (on youtube?) where it showed how a small assembly shop put the solar cells together with solder and copper tape, and how they are vacuum bonded to the glass panels. It may have been a many years old video--but the process seemed very labor intensive (everything was done by hand and one guy could make only something like 4-8 ~150 watt panels per day--IIRC)...

    In the above article, and other places I have read, it appears that China and other low wage areas will really be able to make a killing in the solar panel markets by undercutting production prices everywhere else...

    Hmmm good and bad with that. :|

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • RoderickRoderick Solar Expert Posts: 253 ✭✭
    Re: Net-Metering seems to vary a lot
    Also, there is a nasty little gotcha with BaseLine rates... BaseLine power tier (the ~300 watts a month for me) is used when consuming and generating power. So, if I generate 300 kWatthrs during peak time, I have to pay a higher rate to use power during off-peak times because I generated so much power--has not happened to me yet--but has happened to others with larger arrays.

    I wanted to confirm, is this a bad thing? Maybe the E-7 rate is metered differently, but my impression for the E-6 is that all that is watched is the "net" amount of electricity, total. So if my usage is 600 kWh, and solar generates 200 kWh of that, then I have 400 kWh net (I'm ignoring the TOU for the sake of this discussion), and pay dearly for the last 100 kWh.

    On the other hand, if I use 200 kWh, and the solar generates 600 kWh, then I have -400 kWh net, and get paid dearly for the last 100 kWh. It's true, at night, each kWh subtracts from that 100, so I would be paying at the high rate, but there is symmetry, because in the more common situation, solar will be offsetting the top tier positive usage.

    Other comments on E-6:

    I've been on this rate for about 2 months, now. It appears to be worse than plain E-1, but the main contributor is the leasing fee for the meter. If they would just sell the new meter to me outright (they used to do this, but stopped doing it 5 days before I applied), it would be great. As it is set up right now, the customer pays for the new meter over and over again - in my opinion, the actual cost of the meter is recovered in a little over 3 years. I'm not allowed to change rates more than once a year, so about a year from now, I plan to go back to the old metering plan.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,608 admin
    Re: Net-Metering seems to vary a lot

    I did purchase my E-7 meter for ~$277 (if I recall correctly).

    And the whole problem with TOU and Baseline Tiers is that you cannot ignore TOU with baseline charges as generating and consumption are both "charged" against baseline--so if you generate 600 in peak and consume 600 kWhr in off-peak, 150 kWhr (of the 300 kWhr base--for my home) is allocated to the Peak and 150 kWhr to the off peak... So, the billing becomes more complex (approaching, or exceeding, vector calculus in terms of complexity). Yes, you get paid the higher rates in generation because you are in an upper tier (I think... It is not clear to me that is true--but I think it is), and you would pay higher tier charges in the off-peak too--even though, net wise, you you were a net zero consumer of power. (I believe you still would be better off with TOU instead of flat rate E-1 residential as you should still get a credit in the above example--but it is much harder to predict what those credits would be month to month).

    The reason the baseline stuff is a mess... Take summer E-7... Say I generate 200 kWh during peak and I use 400 kWhrs off-peak (to charge my electric car--still in the future...). 100 kWh of the 300 kWh base is applied to peak, and 200 kWh is applied to off-peak. If I understand this correctly, my peak payments to me are:

    -200*$0.29/kWh=-$58 credit, and my 400 watts off peak, would be 200 kWh * $0.086 + 200 kWh * $0.19 (baseline tiers 100 to peak, 200kwh to offpeak) = $55.20 cost or almost a wash for a $2.80 credit to me...

    If the Baseline was not credited during generation, it would cost me -200*$0.29 + 300*0.086 = -$13 credit to me.

    If the Baseline was credited during generation: -200*$.089+400*$0.086 (because -200+300=500 kWh baseline credit)=$23.60 credit to me

    E1 would be 400-200*$0.11=$22.00 cost to me.

    So, for my semi-fictional case, the baseline charges being consumed by both peak and off-peak cost me upwards of $20 of credit on this bill. Be aware, I am not 100% sure of how the credit/baseline/tier system works (I only have a BS in Engineering--not a Phd in higher order Public Utility's Math), but the charging of baseline and having a credit in one time period, hurts when energy is consumed in another off-peak period (such as charging an electric car or compressing natural gas for a NAT car).

    For example, there is another rate (E-9 at ~$0.05/kWhr) intended for charging a car during the midnight - 7am period and the issue with baseline and tiers had caused at least one person to disconnect the E-9 meter for their car (the extra charges for the 2nd meter probably exceeded the savings in E-9 rates once the baseline charges were allocated across the entire E-7/E-9 rate plans/billing).

    Don't get me wrong, I think that the E-7 plan is still weighted very much in favor of the customer (and probably why it is no longer offered to new customers), but the playing with the fuzzy wording of the baseline billing so that generation and consumption add together is not quite fair (or even very easy to understand).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Net-Metering seems to vary a lot

    FYI, I live in Chandler AZ and connect to the grid with SRP, Salt River Project a Government entity that is supposed to be not for profit !

    The best net-metering seems to be in California. I think that is why they have the most Solar in the US. NJ is catching up quickly.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,608 admin
    Re: Net-Metering seems to vary a lot

    Probably why California has the most solar is a combination of good sun and lots of taxpayer's/ratepayer's monies being used to bribe folks (like me) to install solar...

    The rebates have been running around $2.60 a watt for California (my 3kW peak system had about $7,200 from the state--cash; and another couple grand in Fed income tax breaks). For government installations (like schools), the cash incentives were something like $6.00 a watt (awful close to "free install at $8-$10 a watt retail).

    So far, net metering is crazy for a utility to support--that is probably why the initial laws limited net metering to a puny 0.5% of the installed kWhr base--practically meaningless in terms of energy production or pollution reduction.

    And when the rebates ("free government money") "go away", see Germany's drop in solar installations.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Net-Metering seems to vary a lot Maryland

    here in Maryland, Rockville area, PEPCO (8 miles NW of DC beltway), i have had net metering since April 1999
    It is absolutely basic netmetering

    I tried to inform the electric company and they would have none of it other than "thanks for telling us"

    my meter spins backwards when I am producing excess and slower when i am producing less than I use

    everything is based on KWH used except a 2.0408% gross receipts tax o about 36 cents and a flat monthly connect fee

    robert in Rockvile maryland usa
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,571 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Net-Metering seems to vary a lot

    News for So Calif from SCE - New meters installed by 2008

    advanced metering initiative (AMI)

    Customer Connection
    SCE's meters are getting smart
    Next year, SCE will beging to test a new generation of meters that will allow you to choose when you use energy.
    http://www.sce.com/PowerandEnvironment/ami/

    This may be a start to move everyone to time of use metering.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

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