Net metering is similar to the old-school rollover plans. What this means is that there may be times where your system is producing more energy than you’re consuming. At this time, that excess energy will feed into NV Energy’s power grid. When you’re at peak performance, and your consumption is more than your production, you will draw from the grid but be reimbursed in the form of credits from what you previously deposited to the grid. This helps to continuously negate your power bill.
Most homes are still grid-tied, meaning, even with solar on them, they are still connected to the local power grid. Net metering is a huge incentive that partners solar installations with the power company. Simply put, net metering is the process when your solar panels produce more electricity than you need, that energy is sent to the grid in exchange for credits. Then when your solar panels are under-producing, you pull energy from the grid and use these credits to offset the costs of that energy.
When your solar system is being designed for your usage, it’s being built for your average consumption. There will be times where you are consuming less power than your system has produced. For example, during the day while you’re at work, the sun is shining down on your panels at home. All the miscellaneous items left plugged in are not using ALL the power that your panels are producing, so the excess is sent back to the utility company’s power grid.
The utility company compensates this in the form of credits to be used when you’re consuming more power than is currently being produced. A great example of this is at night, there’s obviously no sunlight hitting your panels, your home is pulling power from the grid at this point, rather than your panels. With net metering, you’ve supplied the grid with power, now you’re pulling that power back from the grid, and they are compensating you with those credits to continuously negate your power bill.
In broader terms, most homes will produce excess electricity in the summer months and will use more electricity from the grid in the winter. Because these variations in production are fairly predictable, you will build up extra credits during the summer months so that you can draw from them at night and during the winter months when you need them. With the right size design for your home, your solar system will be able to produce enough power to handle your consumption for the year.
Net metering, in essence, is like using the power grid for your own personal backup without the added cost of purchasing a battery. In fact, it’s being compensated by the power company for reducing your dependence on them.