You have probably heard a lot about solar batteries. If you are like me, you may be thinking solar batteries are necessary to store the energy your solar energy system produces so that you will have energy even when the sun isn’t shining. Thanks to California’s net metering policy, PG&E customers have a net metering agreement that helps manage electricity production without the need for a solar battery. Electricity is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). The concept of a kWh is a bit abstract so try to visualize a kWh as a bucket of energy.
Your solar energy system starts producing energy when the sun rises. Early in the morning, the sun is low on the horizon and so your solar energy system produces less buckets of energy per hour than in the middle of the day when the sun is highest in the sky and the most buckets of energy per hour are generated. So, while your solar energy system may generate the number of buckets of energy that your household or business uses over the course of a day, it isn’t going to match your usage hour by hour. At night and in the early morning, you may have a higher demand for energy than what your solar energy system generates. In the middle of the day, you may have less demand for energy than what your solar energy system generates. So how does your home get the energy it needs during low production times and what happens to the extra energy during high production times?
Here is where the net metering agreement comes in. A net metering agreement spells out how the owner of a solar energy system will be compensated when they produce more energy than they use. Imagine your household or business is consuming electricity at a rate of five buckets an hour and your solar energy system is producing at a rate of ten buckets an hour – you have a surplus of five buckets each hour that rate is maintained. The utility company will buy your surplus of five buckets an hour in the form of energy credits on your bill. What this means for the owner of a solar energy system is you will use the solar energy as it is produced and get the rest of your energy needs from the utility company.
While PG&E does not buy back energy at a very high price, solar energy is still a great investment in part because of net metering. Solar pergolas typically pay for themselves in about 12 years or less and allow homeowners to save tens of thousands of dollars over the life of their solar panel installation. Battery backup can be a very helpful addition, however, so that you can make full use of the solar energy that is produced by your system and greatly reduce or eliminate the energy you need to purchase from the grid at night. This is why Shade Power also specializes in installing solar battery backup, so our customers can have more energy independence while still having the benefit of being connected to the grid.