Georgia’s solar panels provide a free and clean renewable energy source. While Georgia may not have the best solar incentives in the nation, we are making some progress. In 2019, a resolution was passed by the Georgia Public Service Commission to encourage monthly net metering for Georgia Power’s solar customers.
This decision mandates Georgia Power to credit customers for the excess solar energy they produce and send back to the grid during the daytime. This process occurs over the course of a month in what is known as the ‘monthly net energy metering’. For Georgia Power this is the first-ever limited monthly net metering system.
SEIA puts Georgia in the 9th position nationwide for installed solar capacity, providing 3.43% of our State’s power with around 2.7 GW of solar installed. This volume is based nearly completely on utility sized solar power plants which are owned by the utility company as seen in the chart below. In fact, before 2021 less than 5% of all of Georgia’s solar energy was owned by utility-customers.
Georgia Power’s Behind the Meter Monthly Netting program is now being offered to the first 5,000 solar rooftop customers, or 32 MW of new solar energy capacity whichever comes first. Today, over 2,125 customers have already signed up for the program and it’s likely that the caps will be full by the end of 2021! To get in on this program Georgia Power customers need to sign-up for a solar consultation with Creative Solar as soon as possible to fill their spot in the caps.
Monthly Net Metering vs Net Billing
So how exactly does Monthly Net Metering work? The subject of net metering and net billing focuses on how a utility company values and credits a solar customer for excess energy that is delivered back to the grid when the utility customer’s solar energy system generates more power than is consumed at home or in the business when it is produced. The value of surplus generation has been a subject for considerable discussion and can alter the payback time for distributed generating systems significantly.
Solar energy systems installed on the customer’s side of the meter are connected by utility meters that are able to read power flowing in each direction. These meters measure the amount of energy coming from the slar panels to the utility grid and vice versa
In net billing, the consumer supplies the grid with its power at a set wholesale rate while the customer continues to purchase electricity from the grid at a higher retail cost. The wholesale electricity rate paid to solar customers in a net-billing system is often time ⅓ to ¼ of the rate a consumer pays the utility for the same electricity. In net billing, a solar energy system could be producing power that is sent out the home’s meter and sold to the grid at $.027/kWh and then 1 minute later when an air conditioner is turned on that same kWh of electricity will cost the customer $.13/kWh.
Under Georgia Power’s Net Metering, when your solar panels produce electricity that your home does not consume and excess power produced by solar panels is sent to the power grid the utility will then provide a retail credit toward your electricity bill,significantly cutting your electrical expenditure even further.
Some utilities will roll these credits over month to month so that excess energy produced in March might help offset high energy consumption in August. Georgia Power doesn’t allow monthly roll-overs and a monthly surplus is credited to the customer’s account at the solar avoided price of the utility. Typically, a solar energy system installed with net-metering will save a customer over 30% more on their power bill than the same solar energy system installed on the same house metered with net-billing. Here’s an example:
5kW system produces 750kWh a month and sends 250kWh back to the grid. The homeowner also consumes 300kWh from the grid. Under Net-Billing: the customer pays $.13 for the 300kWh consumed from the grid ($39) and gets a credit of $.027/kWh for the 250kWh sent back to the grid ($6.75) for a total bill of $32.25.
Under Monthly Netting: the utility subtracts the 250kWh sent to the grid from the 300kWh consumed from the grid and charges the customer $.13/kWh for the 50kWh of net consumption. That means this customer’s bill will be $6.50!
With either solar metering system, as long as you consume the extra electricity made from solar, you receive the full retail value of the electricity. Battery energy storage systems help solar customers store excess electricity instead of sending that power to the grid so that it is stored and available to use the next time the sun goes down or the home needs more power than the solar panels are producing.
When Georgia Power meets the above mentioned number of solar power owners subscribed to monthly netting, net billing may be the sole offering again.
Several advocacy organizations hailed the approval of Georgia Power’s Behind the Meter program (or net metering) by the GPSC. For Georgia Power solar owners, 5,000 individuals receiving this unique kind of net metering is significantly better than none at all. It’s only the second year of the program, so there is room to expand to more homeowners in the future. However, as of yet, the program is still very limited.
Georgia Power’s Behind the Meter Solar program is available for all residential, business, industrial, and farming clients. Residential customer systems not exceeding 10kW per meter are permitted and business/industrial customers are limited to 250kW.
Nevertheless, only the first 5,000 solar rooftops are permitted to sign up for the program. Currently, Georgia Power has around 2,125 subscribers with already installed solar power systems that we know of. With another 1,900+ contracts currently pending approval. We predict that these are going quickly with roughly 856 spaces left and word now spreading quickly!
The urgency is due to so many people signing up and the fact that the process of getting approved can be lengthy. With a 5,000 (or 32MW) cap and almost half already accounted for, any time waiting can mean losing a slot. In order to qualify for the program your solar energy system must be installed, connected, and producing power.
The system must be installed and connected to the power grid with Georgia Power bi-directional meters in order to even be eligible for the behind the meter solar incentive. This process can take weeks, as we do not have a set timeframe in which Georgia Power will approve any applications for the program. The typical solar installation takes 60-90 days from the signing of a contract to the installation of the solar panels, so if you’re interested in this program don’t wait until it’s too late.
While we do our due diligence to get Georgia Power customers signed up for the program, the reality is not everyone will be able to get in. We hope this will change in the near future and you can help make that happen by calling the Georgia Public Service Commission or Georgia Power and demanding they remove the 5,000 cap.
Even still, Georgia’s solar sector has a promising future, and Creative Solar USA is ready to be a part of it. We provide straightforward, turn-key solutions for stress-free solar energy adaptation. If you want to find out more about shifting to affordable, green, and clean energy, call us today. 770-485-7438
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