What if Your Solar Panels Generate More Power than You Need?

Solar panels produce free electricity whenever the sun shines.

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At Intermountain Wind & Solar, our photovoltaic experts design your solar energy system to meet your household energy needs and consumption. Even if your power consumption is high, your solar panel array can be sized to produce whatever amount of electricity you require.

Sometimes, however, your PV solar array might harness more of the sun’s energy than your household can use. What happens to that extra electricity? Is it simply lost?

Excess Solar Panel Energy Can Be Sent Back to the Utility Grid

No, your extra solar electricity can be put to use elsewhere, assuming your system is tied to the utility grid.

Most residential solar panel arrays are grid-tied. This is how homes with photovoltaic power have electricity when the sun isn’t shining.

This grid connection doesn’t just provide you with power at night and on cloudy days, however. Energy can also flow the other way, with your solar panels providing electricity to the grid. When that happens, other utility customers can use the energy you don’t need.

Your Utility Company May Credit You for Your Extra Electricity

Currently, only nine states do not require local power companies to compensate homeowners for extra solar-generated power sent back to the utility grid. The other 41 states, however, have mandatory net metering policies in place.

If you live in one of the states with net metering, you’ll be credited whenever your solar panel system sends electricity back to the power grid. Your credit amount varies based on your state’s policy.

Some states require utility companies to credit you at the full retail rate, or the same price you pay when you buy electricity from the grid. In other states, net metering credits are issued at a lower, wholesale rate. At the end of the year, any remaining credits on your account may be applied to your January utility bill, or depending on state mandates, the credits may expire or be reduced.

To learn about your state’s net metering policy, visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE). DSIRE is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, and the website maintains current net metering details for every state.

Lowering Your Electricity Bill Even More After Installing Solar Panels

Once your solar panel array is installed, you can take steps to lower your utility bills even further. Doing so can provide you with more net metering credits to offset any power you draw from the grid. Ideally, you can eliminate your monthly utility bill this way.

Sealing air leaks, upgrading insulation, installing energy-efficient windows and managing power can all help reduce your home electricity consumption.

Intermountain Wind & Solar, serving residential and commercial customers in Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado and Nevada, specializes in designing rooftop photovoltaic systems that eliminate your dependence on the municipal power grid. Contact us today to learn more about establishing your energy independence with photovoltaic solar panels.

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