Net Metering

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"Net metering allows power users to remain connected to the grid, and buy power from the grid when needed, and sell power back to the grid when surplus power is generated from devices installed at their residence, like windmills and solar panels."


Definition

"Net metering is a state level electricity policy for consumers who own "qualifying facilities," which are generally smaller, renewable energy sources such as a wind or solar power. "Net", in this context, is used in the sense of meaning "what remains after deductions" -- in this case, the deduction of any energy outflows from metered energy inflows. Under net metering, a system owner receives retail credit for at least a portion of the electricity they generate." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_metering)

"“Net metering” -- utility customers generate their own power (e.g. solar energy) and spin their meters backwards; after a year, they pay net difference." (http://www.terrawatts.com/speaker-notes.html)


Description

From Sam Rose at http://research.iftf.net/node/710

"Widespread use of Net Metering could dramatically lower energy costs world wide. Widespread use of Net Metering could also efficiently use and distribute power from sustainable and environment friendly sources. Widespread use of Net Metering and local power generation could mitigate or diminish the security and economic threat inherent in centrally-produced power. Distributed production of power helps systems avoid cascade failures, like those witnessed in the 2003 North America Blackout. And, decentralized production of power makes it more difficult for human disruption of power infrastructure, such as terrorist attacks on fuel distribution, or on power plants themselves.

The Net Metering arrangement uses the public utility conduit as a platform for individual citizens to create an energy surplus commons of multiple local sustainable energy sources. The public utility governing body still presides over the energy grid, but individual citizens have a stake in minimizing their dependence on centrally generated power, by installing equipment that lets them generate their own power. People affected by terrorism threats to oil and energy supplies, and people who's existence is threatened by dwindling oil and natural gas reserves and pollution, have a stake in the problems solved by successful implementation of net metering.

If the net metering system were scaled up to a national widespread level, the users of the system would become interdependent on each other. System performance would depend on indivdiual users maintaining their equipment. But, individual results and energy savings would also depend on individual maintainence.

Net Metering would likely work best with utility companies that are publicly or cooperatively owned and governed. Private companies could decide to stop Net Metering at any time, and revert energy grid systems to one way metering." (http://research.iftf.net/node/710)


Examples

"In North America, 40 U.S. states have some form of net metering in place, and some Canadian provinces have net metering programs. The United Kingdom government is reluctant to introduce the net metering principle because of complications in paying and refunding the value added tax that is payable on electricity, but pilot projects are underway in some areas.

Germany, on the other hand, has adopted an extreme form of net metering, whereby customers get paid for any electricity they generate from renewable energy on their premises. The actual electricity being generated is counted on a separate meter, not just the surplus they feed back to the grid. For the solar power generated, roughly 2 times the retail rate per kWh for residential customers is being paid in order to boost solar power (figure from 2006). Wind energy, in contrast, only receives around a third of the retail rate because the German system pays only what each source actually costs." ((http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_metering)


More Information

Wikipedia article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_metering

US Government Guidlines for Net Metering http://www.eere.energy.gov/greenpower/markets/netmetering.shtml

See also our entries on

  1. Decentralized Energy
  2. Distributed Generation, or at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distributed_generation
  3. Distributed Power Generation
  4. Microgrids
  5. Micropower