Net Metering Vs. Battery Storage
Currently net metering is the most energy and cost efficient way for solar system owners to deal with unused electricity produced by the system. Although solar systems rarely provide for the entire energy needs of a household or business, it’s common for there to be long periods of the day where solar systems produces more electricity than the owner uses. To illustrate this point, consider the fact that peak energy production of solar panels occurs around mid-day. It also happens that houses are typically empty around midday, with the inhabitants at work or school.
For years, the solution to this problem has been net metering. Net metering is a system that allows solar owners to automatically sell unused electricity back to the electric utilities for the market price. The benefits of this system is astounding. Net metering allows solar owners to cover more of their energy needs without having to worry about wasting production capacity.
However some fear that the days of net metering, or at least feasible net metering, may be coming to an end. Under the current laws regarding net metering requires utility companies to pay solar owners no less than the market rate for their excess electricity. Utility companies around the nation have been vehemently fighting these net metering laws, saying that it’s unfair for solar owners to be able to provide energy to the grid at the market price without having to pay for any of the infrastructure’s service costs. They succeeded in Nevada, in the passing of a law that increased grid-service fees for solar owners as well as decreased the price of excess energy from solar owners. Many other states are following suite, with roughly half of states reexamining their net metering policies. These recent policy movements have solar advocates scared, as increasing the costs and decreasing the benefits for net metering will have a disastrous effect on the economic feasibility of solar.
Even if the current net metering policies are gutted, solar owners and prospective solar owners have nothing to fear. Batteries used to be too small, too expensive and too inefficient at storing energy to be a viable solution to the excess energy production problem. However, recently Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors Inc. has developed an all around better battery called the Powerwall. With more feasible battery solutions coming into the market, it is likely that many homes will disconnect their solar systems from the grid and stop being burdened with service fees and extra paperwork for less benefit.
As of right now, net metering is the way to go. Until the market changes, net metering will remain the cheaper and more convenient option for most solar owners (unless you live in Nevada).
If you are interested in going off grid, Better Together Solar does offer the Tesla Powerwall in conjunction with a solar system. Contact us or request a quote for more information.