National Grid's net metering program allows customers who generate power on-site through solar panel systems to financially balance out the total amount of energy generated by the customer with the amount of energy bought from National Grid. As renewable energy sources are intermittent, this allows customers to still meet their electricity needs at all times.
When a customer exports or feeds more power back to the grid than they use, they qualify for net metering credits. The value of the credit depends on the size of the customer’s solar panel system.
For customers with solar panel systems under 1,000 kW, the net metering credit is determined by multiplying the number of kilowatt hours (kWh) exported back to the grid by the sum of Distribution, Basic Service, Transmission, and Transition. Most residential systems are under 20 kW, so they fall under this category. Based on current residential rates this adds up to 9.37 cents/kWh.
Residential net metering on solar panel systems up to 25 kW is available through National Grid in New York. When a customer exports more energy than they use in a given month, they receive credits on their bill that are calculated by multiplying Delivery, Market Settlement, State Assessment, and System Benefit charges by the number of excess kWh. The residential rate varies by month but as of early 2017 is around 7.5 cents/kWh.
National Grid customers in Rhode Island are eligible to receive net metering credits when using a solar panel system. Like other net metering programs, National Grid’s program allows customers to financially balance out the amount of energy exported back to the grid with the energy imported from the grid over the course of the billing period.
The credits are worth the retail price of electricity in Rhode Island, calculated as the sum of Standard Offer Service, Distribution, Transmission, and Transition charges. Based on current residential rates (as of early 2017) this adds up to 7.04 cents/kWh. Customers will still be responsible for paying any demand charges or customer charges associated with the account. In addition, National Grid owns the revenue meter installed for net metering, and customers are responsible for associated taxes, meter maintenance, incremental readings, and billing costs to the utility on a monthly basis.
|Customer type||System size||Electricity rate|
|Massachusetts (Residential)||< 1,000 kW||9.37 cents/kWh|
|New York (Residential)||Up to 25 kW||7.5 cents/kWh (approximate;
rate varies from month
|Rhode Island||Less than 5 MW||7.04 cents/kWh|
The net metering cap of a utility represents how many solar (or other renewable energy) installations can participate in the net metering program. As of April 2016, the net metering cap for Massachusetts limits net metering to 7% of a utility’s historical peak load for private customers and 8% for public entities.
National Grid’s cap is 359.17 MW for private customers and 410.48 MW for public entities. However, systems that are 60 kW or smaller are classified as Class I and are exempt from the net metering cap. Most residential solar panel systems generate less than 60kW so the net metering cap does not apply.
In March 2017, New York State transitioned away from a “peak load” based cap. Now, the net metering cap is determined by calculating net metering’s impact on the utility’s net revenue. It is set at 2% of incremental net revenue, which is equivalent to 100 MW. The Public Service Commission requires each utility in New York to report when they reach 85% of their recommended net metering capacity so subsequent action can be determined. The cap is set at 100 MW, so the 85% capacity marker is set at 85 MW.
There is no net metering cap for customers in National Grid’s Rhode Island service territory.
|State||Cap (%)||Cap (MW)|
Public: 410.48 MW
|New York||2% (impact on net annual
In Massachusetts, other energy companies that offer solar panel net metering include Eversource and Con Edison. These companies, like National Grid, comply with Massachusetts law in regards to net metering. As net metering practices are regulated, the only difference is in price and that is dependent on your location and energy needs.
National Grid is the largest utility in New York based on total megawatts of electricity generation. The next largest is ConEdison, whose electricity service area does not overlap with National Grid. ConEdison, along with Central Hudson, NYSEG, and Orange & Rockland offer net metering programs with similar requirements to National Grid. Based on the total program size for residents within National Grid’s service territory, National Grid’s net metering program is a good choice because of solar net metering availability and scale.
Energy companies in Rhode Island such as Direct Energy also offer net metering as a part of their utility. These companies comply with the same net metering laws as National Grid, so the difference comes down to the value of net metering credits. While every company offers credits that are worth the retail rate of electricity, the value of Direct Energy’s net metering credits is higher than National Grid (8.59 cents vs. 7.04 cents) due to the higher cost of electricity from that provider.
In months when customers generate excess energy that is sold back to National Grid, net metering credits are determined by multiplying the excess kWh generated by a customer’s solar panel system by the applicable rate (currently at 9.37 cents for residential properties). These credits are calculated and credited to the customer’s account where they accrue as a dollar-value credit on the bill. If these net metering credits are not allocated to National Grid accounts, unused credits will accrue on the account indefinitely. This means that customers should not expect to receive a check or payment as compensation for accrued net metering credits as these credits do not expire.
When customers generate more energy than used, net metering credits are determined by multiplying the excess kWh generated by the current rate (7.5 cents but varies). These net metering credits roll over monthly and at the end of the 12 month billing period any excess credits will be converted to a cash value and paid to the customer at SC6 (billing rate) avoided cost rate. Avoided cost rate is the cost National Grid would have incurred had it supplied the power itself.
Net metering credits, applicable when a customer generates more electricity than consumed, are calculated by multiplying the excess kWh by the 7.04 cents (the current rate). These credits are a dollar-value applied to a customer’s account during each billing period and can be used towards other National Grid billing accounts. The credits not used on other accounts will accrue on the customer’s account and customers should not expect to receive a check or payment for these credits as they do not expire.
National Grid does not offer any other solar incentives in Massachusetts.
National Grid in New York does not offer any other solar incentives.
National Grid participates in the Rhode Island Renewable Energy (RE) Growth Program. This program is an alternative to net metering that allows customers with solar panel systems to sell their output at a fixed price under long-term tariffs. For small-scale solar panel systems between 1 and 10 kW the fifteen-year rate is 34.75 cents/kWh, while the 20-year rate is set at 30.85 cents/kWh. For solar panel systems between 11 and 25 kW the ceiling/standard price is 27.75 cents/kWh for 20 years.
The process of connecting a solar panel system to the grid is known as interconnection. Regardless of your utility, interconnection involves an application process. Your solar installer will usually help you complete your interconnection paperwork.
Most residential systems generate less than 15kW, making customers eligible for the Simplified Application Process. This involves filling out a simple application form, which is then evaluated by National Grid and receives approval. Depending on review, in some instances there may be modification costs associated with the interconnection process. Owners of systems generating more than 60kW are required to install a dedicated phone line at the meter.
To interconnect a solar panel system sized at 50 kW or less (including most residential systems), the customer’s proposed project plan, equipment, and specifications must be communicated to National Grid to determine the nature of the project. At that point, National Grid will provide requirements and an application package to the customer.
The customer must submit the application and receive initial interconnection acceptance to then install the system. Once the solar panel system is installed, the customer must schedule, conduct, and submit verification/witness testing to receive final National Grid interconnection approval. For systems less that 50kW there is no interconnection fee. If a net meter needs to be installed, there may be a cost associated with it.
Most residential solar panel systems do not generate more than 25kW in aggregate generation capacity, which means that the interconnection process goes through the simplified process channel. Customers will need to submit all forms associated with net metering, including a Simplified Interconnection Application and Legal Information Document. (Depending on the type of interconnection, there may be additional documents required.) Once those documents are submitted and approved, the interconnection process is considered complete.
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