Net Metering is an arrangement wherein you trade kilowatt-hours (kWh) with your utility. If your home or building is producing more electricity than it is using the excess flows out to the grid, running your meter backward.
As a result, a solar array in the Seattle area may feed excess kilowatt-hours into the grid during the summer. Net Metering allows you to "bank" that extra energy with your utility to be used in the winter months when solar production drops and electricity consumption rises.
The fiscal year for Net Metering is from May to April. If you still have kWh “in the bank” at the end of March you forfeit their value. For this reason, systems are designed to not exceed 100% of the consumer's annual production. Net metering does not have an expiration date, but there is a threshold in State law below which your utility must offer net metering. Through the efforts of Puget Sound Solar and members of Solar Installers of Washington, the threshold was raised 8X, to 4% of a utility's 1996 peak load. Only two utilities in the state had more net metered power when the law was passed in 2019.
Net metering is required statewide for PV systems up to 100 kW, but Seattle City Light has adopted a different standard for commercial customers, allowing them to install much larger systems that will be subject to a 'net billing' rate for excess kilowatt hours at the end of a billing period, but that can offset the retail rate for anything consumed onsite during that billing period.
Other models for interconnection to utility grids will emerge as the amount of distributed solar on the grid increases. These models may increase the monetization of behind-the-meter storage that allows increased self consumption of solar power without involving the utility grid.
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