MCE is issuing cash outs totaling over $1.3 million to rooftop solar customers when they have produced more electricity than they used themselves. MCE’s Net Energy Metering (NEM) program currently provides incentives for rooftop solar customers, including paying premium rates that compensate solar customers at the full retail rate plus an extra penny per kilowatt-hour for excess electricity generated.
The program is important to note because most customers with solar panels in California are required to forfeit any surplus credits on their accounts. MCE is California’s first Community Choice Aggregator, a program that allows local governments to procure power on behalf of their residents, businesses, and municipal accounts from an alternative supplier while still receiving transmission and distribution service from their existing utility.
Customers also have the option to transfer their credits to MCE programs that serve disadvantaged communities, like the MCE Solar Rebate Program. Since launching the program in 2013, MCE has allocated $535,000 in income-qualified solar rebates through a partnership with GRID Alternatives’ Energy for All Program, which reduces household electricity costs by up to 90 percent by providing no-cost solar systems to homeowners who qualify as low income.
Have you been reading out Countdown to California 2020? Catch up!
- Installment I: The role solar plays in California’s new building efficiency standards
- Installment II: Constructing a new solar pathway
- Installment III: Would you like solar with that?
- Installment IV: How California is both boosting and undermining its solar + storage future
MCE has a high number of rooftop solar customers in its service area, with NEM participants making up over 7 percent of MCE’s total customer base. This year, MCE’s cash outs were distributed as follows:
- $635,000 in Contra Costa County
- $270,000 in Marin County
- $250,000 in Napa County
- $216,000 in Solano County
Of the $1.3 million offered in 2019, over 70 percent of the proceeds are directed towards municipalities and schools.
“In the first full year of working with MCE, Pittsburg Unified School District has realized a $72,000 cash out from overproduction of our solar arrays district-wide, due to the 2019 Net Energy Metering Cash Out Program,” said Dr. Janet Schulze, Superintendent, Pittsburg Unified School District. “This was a win-win situation for us. Our solar arrays are in place and now we are gaining additional value for the energy we are producing beyond the needs of our schools.”
How MCE’s NEM Cash-Out Program Works
To calculate the amount of the cash out MCE customers receive, a meter tracks the net difference between the amount of electricity an MCE customer’s solar panels produce and the amount of electricity used during each billing month. When the panels produce more electricity than is used on-site, customers receive a credit on their bill that rolls over excess credits every month.
Most customers with solar panels in California are required to forfeit any surplus credits on their account each year through a ‘true-up’ process. MCE’s NEM program currently offers allows customers who earn credits of $100 or more to cash out their full credit balance or simply roll the credits over into the following year — up to a maximum of $5,000. Customers with a credit below $100 will have their credit automatically rolled over.
— Solar Builder magazine