What Is Solar Net Metering & How Does It Work?


The advantages of solar power are obvious. Until the sun dies in some 5 billion years from now, we’ll be able to use its energy in order to power our society (there are actually other bottlenecks involving minerals and manufacturing, but we’ll leave those for another article).


The disadvantage of solar panels is that, well, the sun isn’t always shining. When it rains, or night falls, or winter comes around, you’re going to get a lot less solar energy. That would be fine if we had a battery that could store solar energy efficiently over long periods of time, but we haven’t developed that technology yet. What we needed was a novel solution to make solar panels useful all year long, and net metering provides us with exactly that. 


Net metering is an agreement between solar array and other renewable energy owners and their local energy utility. The agreement is simple. You get to use all of the energy your solar panels produce. When your solar panels are producing energy in excess of what your home is using, the rest of that energy is sent to your utility. This, effectively, makes your meter go in reverse – your utility will start to owe you for the energy you’ve produced.


This often happens in the summertime, especially in the afternoon. You’ll either be at work or, better yet, on vacation! On the flip side, Winnipeg gets less sun during the winter (this is true of all Canadian cities). During those times, you can get energy directly from your utility. In other words, when you’re creating excess energy, your utility can use it, and when you’re not generating enough, you use your utility’s energy!


You should know that net metering does not provide you with a source of income. It can make you money, in a relative sense, because the money you don’t spend on your utility bill is money in your pocket. Hey, if you want to call that income, we won’t argue. That said, what you’re actually getting are credits. With a proper set up, you can generate enough electricity in the summertime that you can go all winter without paying for power.


Not every province has a net metering scheme, and if your province doesn’t – lobby your utility. I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t have net metering – it’s a win-win. You’re generating energy for your utility, which they can sell to others at a higher price. You get full value out of your sources of renewable energy. Everyone should have net metering available to them.


We offer high-quality Winnipeg solar panels, so if you’re interested in an array, get in touch with us. An important concept to cover in Manitoba is the difference between net metering and net billing. With net metering, credits are applied in kWh – Manitoba Hydro uses net billing, which applies monetary credits. Realistically, it’s simply a different way of crediting your account. The value of net metering can be the same as net billing, depending on how much of a monetary credit you get from your net billing.