Solar Billing (Net Metering and Net Billing)
Net Metering or Net Billing refers to how utility companies bill solar customers. Net Metering typically refers to a client being billed once per year for electricity, while net billing means clients are billed monthly. The three largest utilities in California (“The Big 3”) are now on Net Billing (SDG&E, PG&E, and SCE).
Understanding Net Billing:
When you have solar, your home consumes the electricity your system produces in real-time, with shortfalls in production being purchased from the grid, and surpluses in production being either stored with solar batteries or sold to the grid for credit on your bill.
With previous Net Metering agreements, you received nearly retail value for the energy you send to the grid. This allowed solar systems to be simpler, and save maximum dollars without a battery. Since homeowners were credited retail rates, the grid essentially stored power at retail rates, and distributed that power to the homeowner. Homeowners who went solar prior to April of 2023, are grandfathered into that agreement for 20 years, and only would need a battery for backup in case of a power outage.
The “Big 3” now do not give retail credit for overproduction anymore. The law change for Most Californians limiting the value for exported power happened on April 15th 2023, and is commonly referred to as Net Metering 3. Under Net Metering 3, customers looking to maximize savings need to have a battery installed to capture overproduction during the sun hours. Without a battery a customer could offset some charges during the day if power was instantly consumed, but would still be buying lots of power from the utility in the evenings, or when the sun was not shining (rain, clouds, etc.).
In the following utilities, we would almost always recommend battery storage, as they are all on Net Metering 3.
Save With Solar
Besides the “Big 3” Above, there are several utilities in California that still receive larger bill credits for exported production (40-90% of retail value).
In the utilities above, solar batteries may increase savings, but may not be necessary because of higher billing credits. These utilities may currently give higher credit per exported kWH than the “big three”. Rates and laws change, so please use this as a reference only.
It is important to understand your utilities policies, which we will be happy to help you with.