Net Metering is a very important electricity policy for the promotion of distributed energy from renewable energy sources like solar energy.
All consumer establishments connected to the power grid have an electricity meter installed which measures the amount of power consumed during a month in Kilowatt Hours (kWh) which is known as one unit. The power utility compiles the data for power consumption during 1 month and sends a bill which is usually the number of kWh multiplied by the retail electricity rate. A customer can reduce his electricity bills with the help of net metering policy if he has a solar system installed at his establishment. He can send the excess power back to the grid and claim a credit for the same in his monthly electricity bill, with the help of special meters called net meters.
What is Net meter
Net metering is a special metering and billing agreement between utilities and their customers, which facilitates the connection of small, renewable energy-generating systems to the power grid. It is a bi-directional electricity meter that is capable of measuring electricity flowing in and out of the grid. Net meters are critical components in an on-grid solar power system. A customer will not be able to avail any credit without a net meter.
How it works
Consumers are lured by the huge savings that installing a solar power system could entail. A consumer can avail discount from his electricity bill by claiming a credit of power he sends back to the grid with the help of a net meter. One of the major attractive propositions of installing a rooftop solar system in your establishment is the availability of credits in one’s electricity bill. In order to claim the credit, installers need to have a net meter installed at their place which keeps a tab of power that was sent back to the grid. Each state has a different net metering policy.
What is the procedure to get net meter
Since every state has a different net metering policy, a customer can visit the respective state’s energy development website and register on the site. Then look for the net metering option, download the form, and submit required documents e.g. Latest Electricity Bill, Aadhar Card, Application No., etc. to complete the registration. Your application status will show on the website. Just login on this website to check the latest updates. For a few companies like Tata Power, the entire procedure is offline. You will have to visit their office to apply for net metering.
How can we check
Suppose you have a 3 kW AC module installed at your home. This system generates nearly 245 units of power. Out of these 245 units, suppose you have used 135 units for your consumption and the balance you are sending back to the grid. Hence for the balance 110 units you will get a credit based on the monthly electricity rate in your utility bill. Your saving will be calculated as:
(135*7.50) - (110*7.50) = Rs. 187.50 in this case (taking Rs. 7.50 as the per unit electricity charges in your district).
When you did not have a solar system installed you had to consume all your power requirement from the grid for which it charged you. Now, with a solar system you can easily consume the free units from the sun, plus send back the excess units to the grid for which you can claim a credit.
For Solar Energy, Net Metering is also very important as solar energy unlike other forms of renewable energy is produced a lot in residential and commercial segments.Net Metering concepts is very well developed in countries like Germany which has the best solar incentive in the world.With the price of solar energy fast approaching retail price in many parts of the world,Net Metering will become more important.Generally a contract is signed between the utility and the customer on net metering which allows a consumer to reduce his electricity bill through net metering. The net metering policy in India is facing many challenges currently. Lengthy clearance and approval processes are the major ones. Developers face long approval processes which can last anywhere between 3-6 months.