Understanding net metering in Florida

understanding net metering

If you have a solar energy system, then you are likely the beneficiary of net metering. If you’re not quite sure what that means, keep reading for understanding net metering in Florida – we’re happy to explain.

Net Metering Rules in Florida: A Closer Look

Florida adopted net metering rules in 2008. Net metering allows utility customers to connect approved renewable energy systems – such as solar panels – to the electric grid and send excess electricity back to the utility company, and get credit against their future consumption.

When consumers generate electricity from their solar array for their home or business, it reduces the amount of energy they need to purchase from the utility and lowers their monthly electricity bills. If their system produces more eergy than they need, the system sends excess power back to the grid. That amount of energy is deducted from their monthly bill or credited toward a future bill in the same calendar year. Those credits can roll over month to month, up to a full year. At the end of the year, the utility will pay you for the excess electricity left on your account, but only at the wholesale value, which is usually about 30% of full retail value.

To be eligible, a home or business owner needs to apply with the utility company and have their electric meter replaced with one that measures excess power supplied to the grid.

Importantly, net metering is only allowed on a “per meter” basis, so you cannot have a single solar array offsetting more than one meter. In other words, if you have multiple electric meters, you need multiple solar arrays, even if they are on the same building, and those solar arrays cannot share credits from their excess production. Some other states have programs known as “virtual net metering” where you can take the savings from one solar array (such as a community solar installation), and apply it to multiple meters/accounts. Florida does not have virtual net metering today.

Currently, only FPL, Duke Energy, TECO, and a few other utilities around the state offer full net metering. Most co-ops (like Peace River Electric locally) have eliminated their net metering programs and, instead, offer rates for solar that strongly discourage homeowners from installing solar.

Challenges and Controversies: The Future of Net Metering in Florida

While net metering sounds pretty straightforward, there is controversy and the practice may be at risk here in Florida. In states where solar energy generation is on the rise, utility companies have claimed that solar adopters are not paying their share of maintaining utility operations, resulting in an increase in costs for other utility customers. Although numerous independent studies refute this claim and instead show that solar reduces the cost of grid maintenance and operations for non-solar customers, some states such as Nevada, Hawaii, California and numerous others are responding with the levying of additional fees and/or by lowering the price they pay for net metered electricity.

Of course, this is bad for the continued growth of the solar industry and renewables as a whole. While most who install solar tend to be concerned for the environment, the financial benefits of going solar are a large part of decision-making. If utilities reduce or remove that incentive, it could have a huge negative impact on the future development of solar.

We have reason for concern here in Florida. The big three utilities (FPL, Duke Energy, and TECO) have attacked net metering repeatedly over the last 15 years. They have tried ballot initiatives, legislative changes, and challenges through the Florida Public Service Commission to eliminate and damage net metering (through additional fees, regulatory roadblocks, limits to the financial return, and other methods).

This illustrates the importance of voting, of making your voice heard. We believe that the monopoly utilities have over the commodity of power is unprecedented in an otherwise capitalistic economic model. Innovation can’t happen without consumer choice, and consumers can’t control their own finances if an essential resource is controlled by a company with great legislative influence and proven history of at-will rate hikes.

If you have any questions about understanding net metering, or wish to explore the possibility of installing a solar power system on your home or business, please give us a call or click HERE to send us an email!

Read More: Area power co-ops eliminating net metering programs

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