Net Metering 101: What cooperative members need to know
Missouri's net metering act requires retail electric suppliers to make net metering available to customers who have their own electric generation units that meet certain criteria, one of which is that the unit is powered by renewable enrgy resources.
Net metering is where the member gets credit for the electricity he/she generates in lieu of electricity supplied by the electric utility. Net metering provides the best of both worlds for consumers who chose to invest in renewable energy technology: they have the security of grid connection, but are also compensated for the excess power they produce that's fed into the grid.
Consolidated Electric Cooperative (CEC) has a net-metering agreement for interconnection of a distributed generation source. Our policy, agreement and application reflect the standards set by the Net-Metering and Easy Connect Act (ECA).
Net metering is available to members on a first-come, first-served basis until the total rated generating capacity of the net-metering systems equals 5 percent of the utility's single-hour peak load during the previous year.
Simple interconnection procedures that standardize interconnection for all Missourians are necessary to promote the use of renewable energy in Missouri. The ECA makes it easier and more cost-effective for Misssourians to connect small renewable energy systems to the grid.
Consolidated Electric Cooperative supports sound renewable energy. We just ask that our members do their homework before spending thousands of dollars to add solar, wind or any type of renewable energy source to their home. For more information, please contact the cooperative at 573-581-3630.
Are you considering investing in a system to help generate your own power? Small wind turbines and rooftop or stand-alone solar panels are referred to as distributed generation (DG). Most members with DG systems use the electric cooperative's grid to buy power during times when their DG system is not producing enough power to meet their needs and to sell power to their electric cooperative when their system may be producing more electricity than is needed. To address the interest in DG systems, Missouri approved a billing system called Net Metering.
What is Net Metering?
Net metering is a metering process designed to determine the net amount of energy provided to the member by the cooperative and the energy provided to the cooperative by the member. Simply put, net metering is the difference between how much energy is used at a member's home or business and how much energy the DG system at that home or business produces each month. Net metering policies vary by state, and in Missouri, electric utilities must abide by the, "Net Metering and Easy Connection Act." Details read here are based on the Missouri Act.
Here's an Example
If you install a DG system at your home or business, have communicated with Consolidated Electric Cooperative and completed the contract requirements to have it connected to the grid, this is how you can expect it to work.
CEC will net your monthly electric usage against your monthly DG produced and delivered to the grid, measured during each billing cycle. If your monthly usage is more than your monthly DG produced, you will pay the difference based on electric rate you are normally charged. If the energy the DG system produced and delivered to the grid is more than your monthly energy use, you will receive a credit on a future bill, based on an avoided cost rate.
What is Avoided Cost?
Per the Missouri Net Metering Act, any credit from generating more energy than you use will be based on the average monthly avoided cost of Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc. (AECI), CEC's wholesale power provider. Avoided cost is what it would cost AECI to generate power or purchase power from another utility. The credits will never be paid in cash to a member. They may only be applied as a credit against energy used and billed at the cooperative's retail rate. Under the Missouri Act, the credits must be used within 12 months or they expire without compensation.
You will still have an electric bill
Regardless of the amount of energy generated by your DG system, you will always need to pay your cooperative's fixed monthly rate, referred to as the service availability fee. This fee helps CEC offset operating costs for things such as poles, wires, meters, and other infrastructure to keep your power safe and reliable and available any time you need it. Net Metering credits are not applied against this fee, taxes or dusk-to-dawn light fees.
What are my next steps?
If you are considering installing a DG system, talk with us at Consolidated Electric Cooperative first. Not only will this be helpful, you are also required by law to inform and work with us prior to installing a DG system that connects to the grid to be sure it meets safety requirements. We will be able to provide you with information and the paperwork you need to move forward.
Click the image below to print a guidebook provided by the Energy Education Council. This book will provide guidance to requirements you may not have considered and questions you will want to have answered before committing to a significant investment.
How do I determine how much solar I need?
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) provides an online calculator for those interested in determining the size of photovoltaic (PV) systems necessary for their home or business. Click the image below to go directly to the NREL calculator.
How do I get a distributed generation contract?
After you complete your research and determine that a distributed generation system is the right investment for you, call our office to discuss the steps for our interconnection process and we will send you a contract.