At last, what every wannabe solar homeowner in California has been waiting for…on Feburary 26, the humble net metering cap was raised from 2.5% to 5%. Net metering allows solar power generators to get some financial benefit when they generate more power than they use rather than making an involuntary gift of free electricity to their utility company.
Here’s how net metering works: When your solar panels generate power, that power is sucked into the giant power grid that serves your area. If, at the end of the year, you have consumed less electricity than you fed into the grid, then you’re entitled to an offset on your electric bill. Seems only fair, right?
Until last week, utilities only had to offer customers the excess power generation credit until the point at which the utility’s was meeting 2.5% of its peak load with solar power generated by its customers (at which point they could turn customers away from the program). Now, utilities will have to keep paying out the credit until they’re getting 5% of their electricity from solar (which isn’t going to happen for several years). This means lots of new room in the net metering program for tens of thousands of homeowners, schools, municipalities and businesses that install solar systems in the years ahead.