Posted: Tuesday, 5/23/17 @ 3pm EST
If you haven’t gone solar, it’s likely you’ve never enjoyed receiving a negative electric bill. However, if and when you do decide to go solar, a negative electric bill can become a monthly reality. When Boston Solar designs solar systems, we look at your average monthly electric bill and show you what your solar offset will be once the panels are installed. Our goal is to cover 100% of your electricity costs, but of course, there are factors to going solar that may prevent this (ie. roof orientation, how many panels will fit on your roof, etc.).
*PLEASE NOTE: This blog post pertains to a cash or loan purchase of solar panel systems. Customers that lease solar panels see a different type of bill*
A Negative Bill
No matter what, as a solar customer or any other electric utility customer, you’ll always receive an electric bill from your utility company. The difference is when you have solar, many times you will overproduce, showing a negative balance on your bill. That is the idea of going solar, right? To offset your entire electric bill, never having to pay for electricity because the solar panels are doing all the work.
For this blog post, I asked a customer from each major Massachusetts electric utility company to share their bill with us so we could show what a post-solar panel installation electric bill looks like. Note that every solar system is different – not every customer will have a negative bill.
Ira W. of Bedford, MA had his 6.9kW system turned on 3/22/17. His average annual consumption was 6.45kW, but he opted to go a bit larger as he’s hoping to purchase an electric car in the future.
Ira W.'s home in Bedford, MA with solar installed.
The first page of his bill shows a summary of the past year of electric usage, how much is due, current charges and usage summary. The second page of his bill is a bit more detailed with how much he has been credited to date ($118.49) and his overall total charges for the month. Note that he still must “pay” a delivery fee of $6.43, but this amount is deducted from his net metered balance (for more on net metering, check out our blog post HERE). You’ll notice on his electric bill below, it shows his “NET MTR CRDT” (net meter credit) in unused kWh times the amount he pays per kWh ($0.17970) and his total charges or credits. This month, he banked $70.84 and his total credit to date is $118.49. He will generate more electricity in the summer months, but he also has central air conditioning, so he’ll be using more as well. He told me, “It’s so cool that I have a negative bill and don’t have to pay anything to Eversource!”
Matt of West Bridgewater, MA on the other hand has National Grid. His bill looks a bit different, but the same concepts still apply. His solar system is 11.2kW and his average monthly bill before going solar was $300. His system was turned on 12/14/16.
Matt's home with solar panels installed.
National Grid’s bill doesn’t have as many pretty colors, but it shows you what you need to know. Very important to point out that as a solar customer, your National Grid bill will show **COGEN** next to your name/address. Make sure this is showing – for those of you that have read past blog posts, you’ll remember that I went solar last year. Well, I noticed I was still receiving a bill for the “customer charge” and I emailed them to ask why. They accidentally never processed my paperwork, so the kWh would be negative, but I’d still have that small bill. I got it sorted out last week, so now my bill looks like Matt’s where you can see the “Net Met Cr” (net meter credit) and I have a negative balance.
When Matt sent me his bill, I was confused at the “current charges” vs. “total delivery services” as I thought they would be the same. I asked National Grid about this (it showed the same on my updated bills) and they said there is an issue with the top portion “current charges” showing double the amount of “total delivery services.” Those two numbers should be the same. If they were the same, calculations would make sense. Balance forward + total delivery services = credit balance. National Grid is working on a fix to this issue.
Just like Ira’s Eversource bill, Matt has the monthly customer charge ($5.50) plus his net metering credit (amount paid per kWh times amount of unused kWh) for his total negative delivery service charge.
Just Another Financial Benefit of Going Solar
Matt told us that in 2016, he paid about $3,300 in electricity costs. This year, he expects to pay at least 90% less, but is hoping to cover more than that. We’ll have to follow up with him at the end of the year to see how it turns out.
Solar offers incredible financial incentives, a lower or no electric bill with credits, is one of them. In Massachusetts, we’re lucky to have net metering where the electric utilities let our meters “spin backwards” and give us credits for each kWh produced we do not use. Then, we can use the unused energy produced in the future.
Don’t forget solar panel system purchases can also be offset with the 30% Federal Tax Credit, up to $1,000 Massachusetts state tax credit and Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs), which new customers will no longer be able to take advantage of after March 2018.
In both examples above, our customers have negative balances. As we enter the summer months, they will produce more, but they will also use more, so it’s likely they will end up using their credited amounts.
If you’re interested in having a negative electric bill, fill out the form on this page and we’ll contact you to discuss your options!
Director of Marketing at Boston Solar