Energy Choice Programs & Net Metering
If you’re in Ohio, you have the choice to select an alternate energy provider, a provider other than your local utility. While this is great, it can be a little more complicated that it seems. For one thing, you still pay your local utility for the transmission and distribution portion of your bill. They take care of the electric lines and you can call them if your power is disrupted for any reason. The utility will take care of weather outages and all other outage. That portion of your bill doesn’t change. If you choose someone else for the power portion, like for instance a 100% green power provider, you will pay that selected provider for the energy that is delivered to your house through the utility lines.
So how does this affect you in Ohio (or any state with net metering and choice) when you have solar? It’s simple, if you have solar and you have a net metering contract you need to stay with the power supplier with which you have the net metering contract or you won’t get credit for any power you send out into the grid when your system generates more than your home can use at any time. Another power supplier isn’t bound by your contract with the local utility. So, even though it may seem good to switch, you could be losing out on credit for power sent to the grid. If you have a back-up battery you can minimize or eliminate power going out onto the grid from your system, then you don’t need to worry as much about the lose of credits. The Tesla Powerwall, for example, has a setting to maximize solar consumption.
Bonus: A Little Bit About RECs
In case you’re wondering how you can buy 100% green power, like the example above, delivered through the local utility’s power lines to your home, that’s where things get a little complicated. It’s really the same power, however, the alternate supplier is buying the power from your local utility so it’s actual power is exact same. However, the alternate supplier is buying it in bulk (so to speak) and is also buy RECs (renewable energy credits) in the same amount to offset the carbon emissions of the power, thus making it green power. Clear as mud? Basically, money is paid to buy the renewable component from green power generated elsewhere, so by purchasing 100% green power you are supporting the same amount of green energy somewhere else. This system was put in place to maximize green power production in the places where it is most available and cost effective when renewables where just getting started. Once the green attribute has been sold, the actual power from the wind, solar, or other renewable asset can only be sold at the same price as regular power, it can no longer be sold as premium green power.