net metering law allows all utility customers to generate their own electricity and reduce their electricity bills. If you install a solar electric system, your utility will come to your site and switch out your existing utility meter for a bidirectional “net” meter (there is no charge for the new meter). This meter keeps track of the power you acquire from the utility and what you supply to the grid. Each month, the power you use from your utility is offset by the power you send to the utility. You are only charged for the difference or the “net.”
If you generate more power than you use in a given month, your electric bill will have no kilowatt-hour charges, and you will only have to pay the basic utility service charges—typically about $12 per month. The surplus energy will generate kilowatt hour credits that will be applied to your future electric bills. Unused credits will accumulate in your Portland General Electric or Pacific Power account. This means credits accumulated during sunny summer months can be applied to charges during Oregon’s cloudy winter months.
Let’s say your solar panels provide 200-kWh of energy in a particular month. Here are three scenarios showing how energy is measured at the net meter:
|Energy consumed in a month||Net meter reading|
|Scenario 1||200 kWh||0 kWh usage from your utility|
|Scenario 2||100 kWh||-100 kWh (a credit to your account)|
|Scenario 3||500 kWh||300 kWh usage from your utility|
For more information on net metering, we encourage you to contact your electric utility:
Questions? Contact us.
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