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We deliver real-world energy solutions today to build a sustainable tomorrow. - See more at:
We deliver real-world energy solutions today to build a sustainable tomorrow. - See more at:
We deliver real-world energy solutions today to build a sustainable tomorrow. - See more at:

Solar Net Energy Metering - Now in Many Flavors

August 18, 2016

Net Energy Metering (NEM), a US policy-based program that originated in the 1990s and operates in over 43 states, brings benefits to solar power consumers in two ways. First of all, it allows customers a financial credit for on-site solar power production. At the same time it alleviates their electrical load. Here’s how it works:

In most regions of the United States, a typical solar power consumer will generate surplus energy in the summer. NEM allows utility companies to factor that savings into winter’s billing. By implementing NEM, electrical utilities can true up customer expenses annually for a zero net energy balance.

Net Energy MeteringMr. Shah, a solar energy consumer, lives in a region of the US with a warm climate. His electricity bills are about 50% higher in the summer than during the rest of the year due to air conditioning loads.

Because of the Net Energy metering laws in his state, he installs a solar system on his property and is placed on an annual billing cycle. Therefore, he is able to recoup that 50% and normalize his annual energy use due to the sunny cool months, when his solar system is generating more energy than he needs.  See how calm and collected Mr. Shah is now after installing solar?Net Energy Metering

NEM supports solar energy consumers’ investment directly by reducing their energy costs. Thanks to NEM, customers can size their generation to meet their annual electrical load.

The future of NEM looks promising, as the application continues to expand its scope. In many States, the rules for NEM now allow for more complicated ownership structures, resulting in increased eligibility for many commercial buildings and properties. In addition, customers who previously weren’t eligible for solar production because of having multiple electricity meters or limited access to a nearby solar array, are now excellent candidates.

Virtual Net Energy Metering (NEMV or VNEM)

A billing solution for shared complexes

Imagine multiple solar electricity consumers sharing a single contiguous apartment building, shopping mall or business complex. If the property owner were to install a large solar array, how would the NEM allocation be determined? Enter the new world of Virtual Net Energy Metering (VNEM).

VNEM enables utility companies to credit on-site energy generation virtually, through a billing calculation, rather than by hard-wiring separate systems to each individual meter or load system.

This type of solar customer usually lacks the area or rights to install a solar system solely for their use, which is why virtual metering is so crucial. VNEM makes it possible for these types of users to share the benefits of solar production and receive accurate financial credits.

The Sunshine Business Complex property owner is committed to installing onsite solar to make his property more attractive to modern tenants. Virtual Net MeteringEach tenant has different levels of energy consumption and wants different amounts of solar energy.

Thanks to VNEM, they can offset their bills with onsite solar energy according to the amount they elect to purchase.

Virtual Net MeteringSeveral pieces of legislature, including The California Community Solar Bill and the Colorado Community Solar Gardens Act, have helped to make VNEM possible for local communities.


Net Energy Metering Aggregation

A solution for multiple adjacent properties

Net Energy Metering Aggregation (NEMA), currently available only in certain states and allows you to offset multiple various meters on your contiguous and adjacent properties, instead of just one account at a time. A central solar power generator can be installed in a separate location from the electrical loads and you can then strategically apply solar benefits according to the meters’ varying levels of energy consumption. This provides for larger solar installations and optimized investment returns - a real win-win situation.

Alhambra Farms has two adjacent properties, each with its own electrical energy meter. One meter is for a food processing building and the other meter is for a water pump in the far reaches of the property.Aggregated Net Metering

Property 1 consumes more energy than Property 2. Thanks to NEMA, the farm can install a solar array at a central location and feed power directly to the utility grid. The energy produced will be allocated to the various loads according to their percentage of the total energy consumed on the property.

2015-02-09 Blue Oak Energy Cartoon 6-3

For NEMA to work, certain conditions must exist. For one, the meters must be on “contiguous and adjacent” properties; however, the properties may be dissected by a public right-of-way, such as a road or power line. In addition, the properties where the generator and meters are located must have the same owner. Finally, the maximum system size is confined to 1 Megawatt AC.


How Blue Oak Energy Can Help

Your partner in commercial solar energy

You may have all the information that is available, but is it enough to make a decision? Blue Oak Energy can help customers navigate through the twists and turns of Net Energy Metering, especially new developments such as virtual metering and metering aggregation. We will provide guidance about where customers can allocate energy and why. We are also familiar with the VNEM and NEMA required monthly and annual calculations for costs and balance of energy production and consumption.

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