Can You Sell Your Solar Electricity Back to the Grid?
As more people move to solar and become energy independent, their solar installations prove to be useful even during nighttime. With smart meters in place and state-backed net metering policies, you can avoid the high costs of solar battery storage and use the grid to send your excess solar energy. Once your production is low or zero, you take that energy back from the electric company.
What Is Solar Buy Back/Net Metering?
If you have a solar system installed in your household, you know that during the daytime, you produce a lot of excess energy. Solar buyback programs and plans allow you to send that excess solar energy back and earn bill credits or cash. The excess solar energy is used to power nearby homes and businesses during the daytime and during the night, you get that energy back.
So, the solar buyback plan allows you to send the excess solar power back to the grid, while the net metering system monitors how much energy you consume from the utility and how much renewable energy you feed onto the grid. Excess solar power is then counted against your energy use and at the end of the month, there are two possible scenarios:
- You’ve generated more power than you’ve consumed. This is usually the case during the summer months when your solar output is higher than your appliances consume. In this case, you get bill credit and may even get cashback with your electric bill in some rare cases.
- You’ve consumed more power than you’ve generated. In this case, you will get a low electric bill at the end of the month. The price you pay for every kilowatt-hour is your regular energy rate, so the same rate you would pay without solar panels.
Based on your utility company and the regulation in the area you live in, you may get feed-in tariffs. Feed-in tariffs are rates that apply to any excess generation that is sent to the utility. A net metering program sees electricity you send to the grid the same as it does the energy you use, but feed-in tariffs may see them differently. To avoid headaches, check out the interconnection agreement offered by your utility.
For example, if you’ve generated 10kWh more electricity than you’ve used today, and your solar buyback plans value a 1kWh of energy you send to the grid at $0.05, then, you made $0.5 today. However, once it is wintertime and you use more electricity than you produce, these 10kWh of the excess energy you’ve made during summer will translate to the only 5kWh you can take back from the grid (assuming 1kWh of incoming energy is valued at $0.10.
In some areas, your utility company or even municipality or other regulatory body may offer a higher value feed-in tariff. This is usually done to incentivize solar owners. Always check with your local transmission company about solar incentives you can benefit from today.
Feed-in tariffs are a kind of performance-based incentive. These incentives reward any solar generation by means of monthly payments irrelevant to how much electricity you produce and consume. This was a great way to lower the cost of your solar installation, but as the prices drop, many of these programs are rolled back.
How Does It Work?
Solar buyback program rewards excess solar generation by offering bill credits for every kilowatt-hour your produce and do not immediately consume. The surplus generation is sent to the grid and can then be bought back later in the day or year.
Your retail electricity provider may offer a buyback program to allow you to send them excess power over existing power lines. Your smart meter and net metering programs can let you exchange your surplus electricity for bill credit or even cash, depending on your electricity company.
At the end of the month, you pay only for the excess energy you’ve used on top of your production. If you’ve managed to produce more energy than you’ve consumed, you get credited bill credits that you can roll over to the next month. With most electricity plans, you can do that indefinitely.
How to Qualify for a Solar Buyback Program?
Whether you qualify for a solar buyback mostly depends on how much electricity your solar panels produce. In most areas, the cut-off line for Texas solar buyback is set at 20kW or even 25kW for residential solar. This is more than enough to make the majority of USA solar owners eligible for these programs since an average residential solar system can produce between 3kW and 8kW of solar energy.
What is the current solar feed-in tariff?
For Texas solar owners, the feed-in tariff with most utility companies is the same as the price per kWh you take from the grid. This means that for every kWh of excess electricity, you will get one kWh back during the night. In some cases, you can even get cash back on cancellation, but beware that you may have to pay the early termination fee.
How does the solar feed-in tariff work?
The solar feed-in tariff works by taking excess electricity or solar energy you produce and exchanging it for bill credits. In most cases, the feed-in tariff is the same as the retail price, but in some cases, it may be closer to the wholesale price of kWh. Most utility companies, however, offer net metering, which measures both the electricity consumed and fed into the greed at retail electricity rates.
Can I sell solar power back to the grid?
Yes, you can. With feed-in tariffs, you basically sell your solar energy back. In most cases, you get electricity credits. In some, you can even get cash back at the wholesale price. Since most utility companies offer renewable buyback, it is worth contacting your electricity provider.
Are solar programs worth it?
Yes, solar programs are absolutely worth it. Solar programs allow your utility to buy electricity that you do not use, you earn credit and under the solar buyback plan can spend that renewable energy when you need it. Texas solar programs are especially attractive to solar owners. You may find out more through your solar installer even before installing solar panels.
Your solar panels do not have to work only during the daytime. With a very attractive buyback plan, you can send surplus generation back to the grid. This electricity is then accumulated by your smart meter and you can use it during the night. As more similar incentives are rolled out, and with the average price of solar panels being in a steady decline, you can be sure that your solar panels are an investment that is fast to pay off.