When Illinois homeowners go solar, they are eligible for something called “net metering.” Net metering allows homeowners who go solar to benefit from their solar system not only on sunny days, but also at night and during darker winter months as well. In this post we explain how net metering works.
Net Metering 101
What is net metering?
Net metering describes the process by which the utility measures your net energy consumption (what you consume from them minus what you produce and send back to them). You’re billed for the difference between the two, or your net grid energy consumption. Net metering also allows you to receive credits on your energy bill when you produce more energy than you use.
How net metering works for residential solar in Illinois
Most home solar systems are designed to operate in conjunction with the electric grid. That way, if you happen to consume more energy at any moment than the solar system is producing, you draw energy from the grid. Conversely, when your solar system produces more than you are consuming, you send your excess energy to the grid.
ComEd utilizes a home’s smart meter to measure its electricity usage and production. When your solar system is producing more electricity than your home is consuming, ComEd adds credits to your account. When your solar system is not producing electricity, such as at night, ComEd deducts your credits first, and only bills you for the net amount of electricity you consume from the grid. If over the course of a month you produced more than you consumed, the excess credits you earned are rolled over from month to month. This rollover system is what allows Illinois homeowners to build up credits during the long sunny summer days and to use those credits during the darker winter months.
The chart below shows an example of a home’s monthly energy use compared to its estimated solar production over the course of a year.
In the example above, the home produces more energy than it consumes in March, April, May, June, July, August, and September. In those months, it earns net metering credits and can roll them over for future use (likely in October, November, December, January, and February).
The annual net metering period
Credits rolled over from prior billing periods can be credited against electricity usage from the grid through the end of your annual net metering period. Your annual net metering period can begin in either April or October. At Certasun we recommend choosing April, as this allows you to start building up credits in summer to use in winter.
The Benefits of Net Metering
Net metering means no battery required
One of the biggest benefits of net metering is that you don’t need a battery. In effect, the grid acts as your battery and stores energy when you don’t need it for times that you do need it.
However, a grid-tied system will not operate during a power outage. Thus, a battery would be necessary if you want power during a power outage. But, batteries can be very expensive and aren’t always able to store enough energy to get homeowners through nights and winters.
Net metering is key to making solar cost effective
Net metering allows you to benefit from your solar system even when it’s not producing. This means that net metering is an essential component in making your solar system cost effective in Illinois. Without net metering, you would be billed for 100% of the energy you draw from the grid and you would receive no credit for the excess energy you send back to the grid.
How do you enroll in net metering?
As part of our No Surprises Guarantee, Certasun will handle all the details and costs of permitting, grid interconnection (this includes your net metering application), scheduling, and construction.
Curious if going solar could save you money? We’re happy to provide a free, no-pressure custom quote. Use the form below to find out if your home is a good fit for solar.