Home » California Solar Net Metering Explained

California Solar Net Metering Explained

California Solar Net Metering Explained

While the rest of the nation has been dealing with its own matters over 2022, California has produced landmark news in the solar industry this month. But it may leave many solar-users a bit confused, given that the debate over the issue has obfuscated the root of the story.

Enter your zip code to see if you qualify for solar incentives!

Do I Qualify?

Please enter a zip code

California Announces Reductions to State Net Metering

Briefly speaking, net metering for solar power users is not going away. Instead, the new plan proposes that Californians receive "lower credits for exporting surplus power to the grid" than they had previously. The measure is aimed more at making California's much-troubled housing market more balanced, based on the notion that net metering is an unfair advantage to property owners.

Again, net metering still exists in sunny southern California, and need we emphasize that this is state-only policy, with no impact on federal programs, nor does it exclude net metering arrangements at the municipal level. California state solar net metering is being cut to 25% of its previous payout. Some media coverage has disparaged the measure, although in the long run we can't see solar power being any less of an incentive considering all the tax credits and programs on-going.

But there's a flip side to this, which is worth consideration on its own.

The Big Push in Solar is for Batteries

Home solar power storage batteries are the actual focus in California right now, and we do need to clear this hurdle sooner rather than later. Currently, usage patterns in California (currently at capacity 12 megawatts distributed solar power, about 25% of the state's peak load) follow what statistic guys call "a duck curve," with demand shooting up between the hours of sundown and when most residents go to bed.

When that demand ramps up after sundown, we're usually back to burning fossil fuels again. But with that said, we are still on a strong progress curve towards the state's goal of eliminating non-renewable energy altogether.

Batteries are a necessary bridge to our green energy future. Battery technology has already been a keep focus of technology research, as rechargeable devices have become the household appliances of the 21st century. But batteries big enough to power a whole household tend to be big and expensive, requiring specialized manpower to install.

But they are making steady improvements:

Installing Solar Storage Batteries

Play Video

This "This Old House" video from 2017 is a great introduction to the subject, helping explain the reduction in net metering there (Hawaii, by the way). They show the battery unit there, about the size of a briefcase, and mention using five of those. You see the rooftop array earlier, a 12-panel setup (and a couple side panels just for the hot water). So figure a ratio of roughly one battery per PV panel there.

This video is five years old, so there has been continuing research and development in this crucial area of renewable energy.

So we are seeing a benefit to breaking one battery down into a distributed system already. Currently, in a complete ballpark estimate, home solar battery installations run average $10K, with some systems as cheap as a few hundred to $30K and up. So things aren't as dire on the battery front as we would have expected even a few years ago.

Expect More Home Batteries in the Future!

Exactly as many US states have led the way in net metering and federal incentives to install solar power in the first place, we could easily see further incentives in place for home batteries. Right now, we're seeing a competitive market effect happen where the race is on to devise the most efficient - and inexpensive - home solar storage system. But when that day comes, we may find ourselves in a more advantageous position.

When your household is capable of 99% free energy uptime, who cares about net metering return?

Enter your zip code to see if you qualify for Free Solar Installation!

Do I Qualify?

Please enter a zip code