Understanding Net Energy

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.

net metered house

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.

meterdisplayNETTo 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

Members can quickly view net energy detail online via the SmartHub Billing and Payment portal. SmartHub makes it easy to view your net energy totals and billing information. Soon, an online Power Portal will give you a more in-depth look at your energy use—giving you access to data as detailed as 15 minute intervals in any given day.


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. Your monthly net metered bill will include the following components:

  • Facility Charge is a fixed monthly charge paid by every United Power member each month to cover the cooperative’s “fixed” costs to provide electric service including meter reading, billing, account maintenance and member services.
  • Franchise Fees, Sales Taxes, Round-Up and Other Program Charges are non-electric charges that must be paid each month. These charges vary by service location and programs the member is enrolled.
  • Energy Charge is energy you used from the United Power system. If you had excess generation for that month, your energy charge is zero, and your excess generation was “banked” for you.
  • Net Meter Banked Usage is the excess energy you generated that is “banked” for future use. If you use more energy than you generate, credits are pulled from this bank.

 


Calculating Energy Delivered

NetBill_calcTo see your total energy delivered from the United Power system to your service location for the month, you can login to your account through SmartHub to see usage graphs and all of your bills in one place, or you can use information from your bill to do the calculations.

To calculate your total monthly energy delivered, subtract the previous reading from the present meter reading printed on your bill.

Example: On the bills shown to the right, the member had a balance in their net energy bank of 22 kWh on their January statement, and total energy delivered by United Power of 115 kWh on their February statement.

To reconcile the February statement, the January net metered bank balance of 22 kWh was applied first, and then the remaining 93 kWh appears on the energy charge line. The net meter bank balance is now at a zero balance.

 


Your Net Meter Bank

When you produce more energy than you use, you can receive credit for that energy through an energy banking process listed on your bill as your Net Meter Banked Usage. 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 “deposit” is made into your net meter bank. That 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 produced in a given month, United Power will “withdraw” energy credits from your bank first before you are assessed any energy charges. Remaining monthly energy use in excess of your net meter bank balance will appear as an energy charge on your bill.

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.

 
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