Ins & Outs of Net Metering in Oregon
Oregon has developed one of the most forward-thinking and equitable utility service arrangements globally, and it’s an ideal way for home and business owners to save money on their utilities.
Today, we’ll cover the ins and outs of Oregon net metering so you can join your neighbors who have already begun to generate their own electricity and harness the power of renewable energy in their homes.
What is Oregon Net Metering?
Oregon Net Metering is a state solar incentive that allows homes with renewable energy to use their solar system to generate power for themselves as well as other users. If your property generates solar, wind, or hydroelectric power, you’ll be able to send excess energy to the power grid, where other customers can make use of it.
You’ll receive bill credits for the power you generate at the end of the month, which can significantly lower your electricity bills. Under the net metering program, some customers end up completely offsetting their utility bills, so all they’re responsible for are taxes and basic service charges.
How Does Net Metering Work in Oregon?
For households or businesses that receive power from renewable resources such as solar, wind, or hydropower, you’ll start by contacting your utility provider and letting them know you’d like to enter a net metering agreement.
Someone from your utility provider will replace your existing meter with a two-way meter that measures the power you consume and the power you provide to the grid.
In the past, Oregon homes and businesses would have to certify their property as a qualified energy facility to sell excess electricity to the power company or invest in large and unsightly batteries to store the extra power they’re generating. With Oregon Net Metering, the process is much easier, and the incentive for customers is much greater.
The Net Metering Credit System
Instead of paying you for the energy your home or building provides to the grid, your utility provider will issue you bill credits that offset your utility bill each month. Homeowners with large solar systems that generate tons of electricity are sure to wonder what happens when they generate more electricity than they consume. Where do those additional credits go?
One of the best parts about this electricity generating system is that unused credits are rolled over at the end of each billing cycle, allowing them to be used later.
This is especially helpful for customers who generate a lot of electricity during a, particularly sunny summer. In that case, those customers will be able to tap into those credits during the winter months when utility usage is high, but their system isn’t generating as much electricity.
Unused credits roll over at the end of each billing cycle for one year. If the credits aren’t redeemed during the year, they’re donated to low-income customers who have enrolled in assistance programs. Not only does net metering help you save money on utilities, but it’s an excellent way to give back to your community.
How You Can Take Advantage of Net Metering
The best time to join the net metering program is when a new solar electric system is installed on your property. Your contractor should be able to manage the paperwork and application process, so there’s virtually nothing for you to worry about.
The primary advantage of setting up net metering when installing a new system is that your contractor can design the system to meet your utility provider’s requirements. Before joining the net metering program, your system will be subject to a county electrical inspection to ensure that it meets the standards necessary for providing electricity to the grid.
If you already have a solar system, you can still join the net metering program. However, you may need to make a few upgrades to your system to ensure that it can safely and reliably deliver quality power to the grid. While the customer is responsible for the cost of these upgrades, most upgrades are relatively inexpensive, and you can pay for them with the money you save from converting to solar.
Applying for Net Metering and Other Considerations
You’ll be able to join the net metering program in five simple steps.
- Ensure net metering is offered in your neighborhood
- Fill out an application
- Receive your results
- Schedule inspection and install
- Pass the inspection
The first thing you’ll do is confirm the program is available in your area. Both Pacific Power and Portland General offer interactive maps that show whether net metering is being provided in your area.
Next, complete your application. You’ll fill out an application based on the power your system will deliver to the grid, i.e., an application for a 25kW system differs from a system that will provide more extensive power. There’s also a separate application for systems that generate greater amounts of electricity, such as wind or hydroelectric systems.
The application process is relatively quick and can take as little as five business days, depending on the complexity of your system. Most households can begin earning kilowatt-hour credits in a matter of weeks from when they submit their application.
Once you’ve submitted your application, utility customers are notified of the results. If your application isn’t approved outright, you’ll be able to make necessary modifications and resubmit your application.
Once approved, you’ll be able to schedule your inspection and the installation of a two-way meter. When the meter services team arrives, they’ll ask you to operate your solar equipment for inspection and install the meter once you pass the inspection. If you’re unsure about how to run your equipment, your solar installer will be able to help.
Next Steps? Go Solar!
Once you’ve certified your system, you’ll be able to take full advantage of your solar system and start supplying the grid today. Or, if you’re beginning the process of installing solar power for your home or building, please contact us today to learn more about how we can help you take control of your energy needs while saving you money in the process.