As an independent generator of solar energy, your home has two sources of electricity: the United Power system and your solar energy system. Understanding how your home uses energy will help you manage your net metered account.
Understanding Net Energy
Members with solar systems often ask United Power “how much power did my solar system generate last month?” or “how much power did we use in our home?” only to learn that United Power can no longer provide this information when you become a net metered customer.
To put it in perspective, think of your solar energy system as a non-United Power energy source like natural gas or propane. Once you install solar panels, you are tapping into an energy source that United Power does not deliver, maintain, or meter and we can no longer provide total energy consumption information to you. We can, however, help you find the information you will need to calculate this yourself. Understanding how your home uses power is the first step to managing your independent solar energy generation.
As a net-metered customer, you can be a net-user, a net-generator, or you can be completely reliant on the United Power system for your power — all depending on the production of your system.
Net User: Your home will use all of the energy produced by your solar system before going to the United Power system for additional power. Whenever your home pulls power from the United Power system, that energy is recorded on the delivered channel of your net meter. Thus, the delivered reading represents what power your home needed after using all available solar energy. The delivered channel is not a measurement of your home’s total energy consumption.
Net Generator: When you are producing more energy than your home needs, your excess energy goes back to the United Power system. That “leftover” amount is reflected on the received channel of your meter. The received channel of your electric meter does not record the total production of your solar system, rather it tells you how much excess power you had after your home used all of the available solar generated power.
System Power: if your solar system is not generating any power, your home will pull 100 percent of your power needs from the United Power system. Any power pulled from the United Power system is recorded on the delivered channel of your meter, and reflected as an Energy Charge on your bill.
Determining Total Power Generated
United Power only measures the energy on the utility side of the meter to track what you use from the United Power system and any excess energy you put back on the system. When you receive 100 percent of your electricity from United Power, we can easily provide your monthly consumption totals. As a net-metered customer, you are an independent generator of power and your solar energy system is not metered or maintained by United Power. Since we don’t meter your solar energy system, it is not possible for United Power to provide you with a production total for your solar system.
Many solar contractors offer tools to help you track the production of your solar system. To assess your home’s total energy consumption, you will need the solar production data from your solar contractor, and the delivered and received meter readings from your United Power meter.
Calculating Your Net Energy Consumption
Net energy is the total energy delivered to you from United Power minus any excess power you put back on the United Power system. Net energy is not displayed, but is easy to calculate with the information found on your net meter.
To calculate your net energy take the delivered energy and subtract the received energy displayed on your meter. As an example, using this meter display image, 300 kWh would be the net total energy. Calculate this by subtracting 200 kWh on the received display (#2) from 500 kWh on the delivered display (#1).
Example: 500 kWh – 200 kWh = 300 kWh Net Energy Use
Viewing Your Consumption Information
Members can quickly view net energy detail online via SmartHub Billing & Payment Portal or the Power Portal.
SmartHub Billing & Payment Portal: View daily usage information, view and pay bills, and make account updates.
Power Portal: the Power Portal provides in-depth interval data to help you analyze your energy consumption. The Power Portal data can be exported for further analysis with your solar production data.
Net Metering and Your Monthly Bill
As a United Power member with a net meter agreement, your bill is a bit different because you consume both the energy produced by your solar electric system and the energy you receive from United Power. When you produce more energy than you use, you receive credit for that energy through an energy banking process listed on your bill as your Net Meter Bank. Your current bank balance is printed on your monthly bill.
Adding to Your Bank
When you generate more energy than you use in a month, a negative meter reading will print on your bill, and a “deposit” will be made to your net meter bank. Your net meter bank balance continues to grow as long as you produce more energy than you use each month.
Making a Withdrawal
If you use more energy than your system produces, United Power will “withdraw” energy credits from your net meter bank before you are assessed any energy charges. Energy used in excess of your net meter bank balance will appear as an energy charge in your billing detail.
Annual Settlement of Your Net Meter Bank
Your net meter energy bank balance will continue to roll over each month until March when all net meter energy banks are settled and returned to a zero balance. If you have a balance in your net meter bank, you can elect to receive a check payment for that energy paid to you at the wholesale energy rate, or you can have your balance applied as a bill credit to your April bill to help offset future service and energy charges. All net meter bank balances are paid out at the current wholesale energy rate.
Billing Detail Line Items
- Energy Charge is any energy used from the United Power system above what your system generated. If you had excess generation for that month, your energy charge is zero, and your excess generation was “deposited” into your net bank.
- Demand Charge is the highest 15-minute interval of consumption from the United Power system over the billing period measured in kilowatts (kW) and multiplied by the per kW rate.
- Fixed Charge a fixed monthly charge to cover a portion of the costs for billing, collections, member services, and metering. These are costs that are incurred by all members regardless of the amount of energy used.
- Franchise Fees/Sales Taxes depending on where you live, you may be charged a city fee based on a percentage of your monthly electric usage and you may be subject to local and state taxes. United Power does not make a profit on the collection of these fees and taxes. They are passed through from the customer to the appropriate jurisdiction.