By way of background, when installing solar panels and wind turbines at your home or property, BELCO replaces your existing meter with a new one. This is called a Net-meter and is designed to record the flow of energy from BELCO to you as a normal meter does, but also from your system back to BELCO while providing a figure of the Net balance between these numbers.

A Net balance of zero would indicate you made as much power as you used, whereas a negative number would mean you sent more power back to BELCO than you used. A positive number would indicate that you owed BELCO for electricity you used from them.

These numbers appear on your Net-meter as:

  • "DEL" -- power delivered from BELCO to you
  • "REC" -- power generated and received by you from BELCO
  • "NET" -- the balance between these two figures calculated a DEL- REC

net-metering_diagramThe simple way to calculate your bill would be to take the current month’s Net figure and subtract last month’s NET figure to get the balance owing -- just as BELCO does with figures on a normal meter (hence why it is called Net metering!).  The bill is currently calculated as DEL (delivered from BELCO) minus REC (received from you) which equals NET.

At the moment, the software BELCO currently uses is not designed for Net-metering applications and makes billing Net-metering customers a complex process though BELCO but have been responsive to enquiries.

For example, there is a $30 facilities charge and a $10 minimum charge added to your bill each month. All BELCO customers pay this but will be noticeable only when there is close to having a monthly bill of less than $50. Whether customers who have generated more power than they have consumed should be liable for a ‘minimum charge’ is something Greenrock is asking the Energy Commission about.

It is worth consulting with BELCO if you have questions, as a number of early Net-metering customers have had bills re-calculated. When new software becomes available, the process of calculating the monthly bill will hopefully become easier to understand.

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