Locally Produced Clean, Renewable Energy for the Future of Our Children and Our Communities
What Is Net Metering?
Net metering allows customers of an electric distribution company to generate their own electricity in order to offset their electricity usage. Net metering can lower a customerís electricity bill by reducing the amount of electricity the customer must buy from the distribution company. Net metering also allows customers to be compensated for any electricity they generate but do not use.

  • How Does It Work?
    To net meter, customers of a distribution company must install generating facilities such as solar panels on a home or a wind turbine at a school. These facilities must be connected to a meter that measures the amount of electricity the customer uses ("retail meter"). The retail meter spins forward when customers use electricity from the distribution company, but spins backward when customers generate more electricity than they use.

  • The result?
    Customers who net meter (also known as Host Customers) will be billed for their net consumption of electricity. In some cases, the bill will require the customer to pay the distribution company for electricity. In others, the bill may include a monetary credit for the excess electricity the customer generated but did not use.
    Net Consumption = (total electricity consumed) Ė (total electricity generated).
    If net consumption is positive, customer pays electricity bill.
    If net consumption is negative, customer receives credit on electricity bill.

  • For example:
    Imagine that a residential customer installs a rooftop photovoltaic (PV) system (also known as a solar-electric system) to her home, on her side of the retail meter. Before daylight, her retail meter spins forward as she consumes electricity from the distribution company to power appliances like a refrigerator or computer. During the day, the solar panels generate electricity. If they provide more power than the customer can use, her retail meter will spin in reverse as the excess electricity is sent to the electric grid. At night, when the solar panels are not generating electricity, the retail meter will spin forward again as the customer consumes more electricity than her system generates. At the end of the billing period (around one month), the customer only pays for the net consumption of electricity.
Why is net metering available to me now?
Net metering has been available to customers in Massachusetts since the 1980s. The Green Communities Act, signed into law by Governor Patrick on July 2, 2008, increased the allowable net metering capacity (size) from 60 kilowatts ("kW") to 2 megawatts ("MW"), a 33 times increase in the capacity limit. In addition, this law increases the compensation for excess electricity generated by wind, solar, and agricultural net metering facilities from the wholesale rate to nearly the retail rate.

Does the Commonwealth regulate net metering?
Yes, the Department of Public Utilities ("Department") enacted regulations pursuant to the Green Communities Act at , which govern net metering 220 C.M.R. 18.00 in Massachusetts

Can I participate in net metering?
Yes, so long as:
  • You are a customer of a Massachusetts distribution company;
  • You have an eligible interconnected generating facility; and
  • The distribution companyís net metering tariff remains open to new customers.

What is a tariff?
A tariff is a schedule of the rates, charges, terms and conditions that distribution companies must use when providing net metering or other distribution services to customers.

Can I generate my own electricity?
Yes. However, for safety and monitoring reasons you need to file an interconnection application with your distribution company in order to get approval before you generate your own electricity.

Do I have to own the generating facilities that I install?
No. Third-party financing and ownership of generating facilities are permitted under the net metering regulations 220 C.M.R. 18.09 (5).

What types of generating facilities may I install and net meter?
You can net meter with any type of generation below 60 kW. If the electricity is generated by wind, solar, or agricultural facilities, it can produce no more than 2 MW.

What is a "Host Customer"?
The Host Customer is the customer of record with the distribution company (the person or entity whose name appears on the account at the distribution company) who has installed a generating facility.

Must the net metering generating facilities be installed where there is an existing retail meter?
No, but the net metering facility must be connected to the electric grid through a retail meter.

What is the electric grid?
The electric grid is the system of electric distribution lines that distribution companies use to deliver electricity to customers. Excess electricity generated by Host Customers is sent to the electric grid.

Who connects the generating facilities to the electric grid?
The distribution company.

Will connecting the generating facilities to the electric grid cost me money?
Maybe. The distribution company charges an interconnection application fee. Also, the distribution company will conduct an analysis on a case-by-case basis in order to determine if any system upgrades are needed as a result of the interconnection, and you may be responsible for some or all of the cost of the upgrades.

What if I do not generate enough electricity to meet all my power needs?
Just as any person that does not have generating facilities, you will need to continue to pay the distribution company for any electricity that you consume.

What if I generate more electricity than I need?
Then the distribution company will credit your account for the value of excess electricity sent to the electric grid.

How is a credit for excess electricity calculated?
Net metering credits are calculated using a formula, which is set forth in and in each distribution company's net metering tariff. For excess electricity generated by wind, solar, and agricultural net metering facilities, net metering credits are calculated using components of retail rates (as opposed to wholesale rates). 220 C.M.R.18.04

How do I use the credit?
Net metering credits will show up as a dollar amount on your electricity bill (as opposed to a kilowatthour amount). These credits never expire and will continue to appear on your electricity bill until you use them up.

Does net metering allow installation of a generating facility at one location while the excess electricity offsets electricity usage at another location(s)?
Yes. Under , Host Customers may transfer net metering credits to other customer accounts so long as the accounts are served by the Host Customerís distribution company and located in the Host Customerís ISO-NE load zone. You can find out if other customer accounts are in the same load zone by contacting the distribution company. For net metering facilities with a capacity of 1 MW to 2 MW (Class III Net Metering Facilities), the distribution company can elect to pay the Host Customer the value of the credits instead of allocating the credits to other customer accounts. 220 C.M.R. 18.05

The Next Step
Quabbin Solar and Blackcomb Solar want to learn about communities that are interested in exploring the value of their natural resource. E-mail us at contact@quabbinsolar.com or call us at 978-355-2343.