Net metering concerns the physical interface between consumers who produce their own renewable energy (such as solar or wind) and utility companies. For example, let's say you want to produce your own renewable energy at home or at work. You know how many kilowatt hours you use each year, so you install a photovoltaic (PV) system that will produce just enough electricity to satisfy your needs. At times you will be producing excess electricity (such as on a sunny day) and at times you will need electricity from another source (such as at night). Your options are to (1) store excess electricity in batteries, or (2) get electricity off the electric grid. The downside of storing electricity in batteries is that it will cost the consumer several thousand dollars in start-up costs and also, batteries are very bad for the environment. So, unless you are worried about emergency electricity during power outages, getting electricity off the grid is a much cheaper and environmentally-friendly option.
Okay. So, the next question is: if you are pumping electricity back into the grid, (1) will the power company compensate you for that electricity, and if so (2) at what rate? Many electric companies would, of course, like your excess electricity free of charge. The consumer/producer would, of course, like to get paid something, and preferably the going retail rate. Getting paid the retail rate is known as "net metering." In this case, you do not need separate meters to measure the inflow and outflow; you only need one meter, that runs either backward or forward, depending on which way the electricity is flowing. Net metering is a tremendous financial
incentive for citizens to begin producing their own renewable energy.
Forty states and the District of Columbia have adopted net metering standards. As you can guess, South Carolina is one of the 10 holdouts. In 2005 the federal EPACT statute was enacted that requires states not yet having net metering to hold hearings and solicit public input.
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