The most common topic we discuss with new Member Generators is how OPALCO keeps track of their locally generated power, and how generated and consumed kWhs are reflected on their monthly bill. An important point to understand is Member Generators have two separate meters – a billing meter and a production meter.
A Member Generator’s billing meter is the meter presented on their monthly OPALCO bill. It measures two things:
- The flow of electricity from the grid toward the house (power the household consumes from OPALCO)
- The flow of electricity “backward” (what their renewable system feeds back to the OPALCO grid when the system produces more power than the household needs)
Each month, based on the two reads from the billing meter, the Member Generator pays a monthly facility charge (a cost shared by all OPALCO members to maintain the infrastructure) plus the difference between the amount of power consumed from the grid and the power sent to the grid. This is called net metering.
The production meter accounts for every kWh the member’s renewable system generates. This meter reading represents total kWhs produced and is indifferent to the way the power is distributed (whether to the member’s home or to the OPALCO grid).
If the member participates in state and local production incentive programs, OPALCO obtains a reading from the member’s production meter annually on June 30th to calculate the incentives.
To view an animation demonstrating solar panels and net metering, watch the video below. You can also learn more about options for supporting locally produced power – even if your home site isn’t ideal.