Net metering (also called net energy metering or NEM) is a billing mechanism that allows solar system customers to push electricity to the grid for credit. This incentivizes people to go solar, provides energy for others to use and prevents waste.
To understand your monthly PG&E electricity bill, you need to know about electricity consumption, rate plans and additional fees.
Your electricity usage is calculated in kilowatt-hours (kWh) and you are billed monthly. The more energy you use, the more you pay—well, not always. Your actual billed amount depends on what kind of rate plan you have. If you don’t know, then call PG&E and ask or have an EnergyPal Advisor help understand your PG&E account information present on your electric bill.
This is the simplest of plans offered. You pay an amount per kWh used. Once you surpass a certain amount or tier, then what you use over that amount increases in price per kWh used, usually by 100-400%. For each tier you surpass, the amount increases more substantially. Tiered rate plans are designed to keep billing simple yet discourage overall excessive use of electricity.
The time-of-use (TOU) plan is more complicated because rates change based on the day of the week, time of day, and season. When demand is high, you are charged more per kWh used. High-demand times are typically evenings, holidays and weekends, when people are at home using more electricity. Although complex, with solar and home batteries the TOU plans are ideal for greatly reducing or even eliminating your payments to PG&E because you will have control over when your solar generated electricity is fed back into the grid for NEM credits.
Electricity bills have other fees and charges. They are usually supply, delivery, customer and miscellaneous charges.
Typically after installing solar (and battery) you will have only small monthly additional charges remaining. As we help you look at different solar panel options we’ll calculate your expected new bill after all the credits, offsets and benefits of your solar system are accounted for.
PG&E sends solar customers a monthly statement and an annual bill. You need to pay your monthly bill, which typically only includes delivery charges. After a 12-month period, your statement may require you to pay PG&E, or they may pay you, depending on the size of your solar system and your usage situation.
All solar customers in California must go on a TOU plan. This allows you to gain from the Net Energy Metering (NEM) program. To understand this, you need to learn about the NEM model.
Net energy metering is equal to the energy you produce minus the energy you consume. You consume energy in your home when you use lights, fans, heat, air conditioning, appliances, pool pump, and charge an electric vehicle. With solar, you produce energy when the sun charges your solar panels and creates an electric current. Sometimes you use all of the energy that your solar panels produce and sometimes you do not, in particular during the peak sun hours of the day. When you do not use all the solar energy, the excess energy is fed into the public electric grid, and you get a credit for being a supplier of energy. Credit comes in the form of kWh, not dollars or cents. How much credit in currency you get depends on the time of day that the energy was sent to the grid and the rates set for net metering, the same way that the price you pay for electricity changes in a TOU plan.
Along with your basic account information and provider contact numbers, your PG&E monthly energy statement explains how much energy you used and provided, when you used and provided it, and how much you are charged or credited for that energy. This information is provided in tabular and graphical format.
The net monthly consumption or provision rolls over each month until your annual bill True-Up Statement is due. That means that besides paying a monthly delivery fee, you only pay for electricity once a year if you have used more than you produced with solar. Your monthly statement gives an account summary with year-to-date (YTD) estimated NEM charges at True-Up so you can plan for that expense. It also helps you adjust your usage habits to save money each month.
Your PG&E annual energy bill (True-Up statement) explains how much energy you used and provided each month, what time of day you used and provided it, and how much you are charged or credited for that energy. There is also an annual total for each of these numbers. This information is provided in tabular and graphical format.
If your charges for consumed energy exceed your credits for excess solar energy over the last 12 months, you need to pay. Conversely, if your credits for producing surplus solar energy exceed what you were charged for consumed energy, then PG&E compensates you.