Portland General Electric is one of the biggest utility companies in Oregon. Their net metering program, also called the rooftop solar incentive, has been a major draw for homeowners looking to go solar. Since the net metering program helps people save money on energy bills, it’s encouraged many to make the investment in solar panels.
However, the Portland Business Journal (PBJ) has just published an article stating that PGE plans to cut the rooftop solar incentive. What does a possible PGE net metering reduction mean for those who have or want to go solar? Today, let’s explore net metering, PGE’s plans, and what you can do to keep your savings steady with solar power.
How Net Metering Works
Net metering, also known as the rooftop solar incentive, is like a teamwork deal between you and your utility company. It lets you gather credits when your energy system makes more power than your home needs. This usually occurs in sunny summer months when your system works the best. Later, in the chilly winter, you can use these credits to keep your energy bills lower. Here’s a simple breakdown:
- Credit Accumulation: You build up credits when your energy system produces surplus electricity.
- Seasonal Variation: Typically, this surplus occurs more frequently during sunny summer months.
- Credit Utilization: In the winter, you can utilize the stored credits to offset your energy consumption.
- Bill Reduction: This process aids in keeping your energy bills lower over time.
Net metering essentially serves as a way to balance your energy usage throughout the year, promoting efficiency and cost savings.
PGE and the Rooftop Solar Incentive: What’s PGE Proposing?
PGE has been in talks with interest groups for the past few months and is getting ready to suggest something to the Public Utility Commission (PUC) in early 2024, as reported by PBJ. PGE is looking at what happened with net metering in California and is suggesting that combining rooftop solar with a battery could make it more valuable for a larger group of customers.
Last year, California made changes with Net Energy Metering (NEM) 3.0, which reduced the incentives from utilities. It was expected that similar proposals would come to Oregon sooner or later. In 2023, Idaho Power was the first to suggest a decrease in net metering incentives for their eastern Oregon customers to the PUC.
PGE’s Proposal: Changes to Oregon Net Metering in 2024
PGE is still working on their plan, but here are the potential changes they’re considering:
- Current net metering customers might continue with the same benefits for at least 10 more years.
- Low-income customers could still qualify for the original net metering program.
- PGE’s new idea, NEM+, treats new solar setups paired with batteries the same as the original net metering customers.
- However, new solar setups without batteries might receive less money for extra energy sent to the grid. Riley Peck from PGE thinks it could reduce net metering value by about 20% to 30%.
Here’s What You Can Do
While there’s no final decision yet, the Public Utility Commission (PUC) hasn’t received a formal proposal from PGE to review. Premier Solar Northwest is a leading solar and storage provider in Oregon and SW Washington. We suggest that when you go for solar installation, think about adding a battery. This lets you save extra energy for high-demand times or when net metering isn’t as favorable.
A substantial battery also ensures you have power during blackouts when it’s crucial. Adding a battery can make your payback time shorter, improve energy use, cut down your electric bill with solar, reduce your carbon footprint for a sustainable and cost-effective choice, and provide more independence from your utility.
Other Ways to Keep Saving Money on Energy
But if you’re not ready for a battery, you can still benefit from installing solar and managing your energy. Here are more ways you can save money on your energy bills in tandem with your solar panels:
- Use Solar During the Day: Make the most of the energy your solar panels produce during the day by using appliances and devices when the sun is shining.
- Energy-Efficient Appliances: Invest in energy-efficient appliances that use less power, making your solar energy go further.
- Time Your Energy Use: Do energy-intensive tasks, like laundry or running the dishwasher, during peak sunlight hours to maximize solar energy use.
- Solar Water Heaters: Install a solar water heater to use the sun’s energy to heat your water, reducing the need for electricity.
- Seal Leaks and Insulate: Ensure your home is well-insulated and sealed to keep energy costs down, making your solar power more effective.
- LED Lighting: Switch to energy-efficient LED light bulbs to reduce overall electricity consumption.
- Energy Audits: Conduct regular energy audits to identify areas where you can save energy and make your solar investment more cost-effective.
- Heat Pumps: Heat pumps save energy by moving warm air instead of creating it, using electricity efficiently. They can also cool your home, making them a year-round energy-saving choice.
Remember, even without net metering, you can make the most of your solar energy system and still save significant money in the long run.
Stay Informed With Us
Although a net metering credit reduction has not been approved yet, we’ll keep an eye on this situation and keep you updated with any new information. If you have any questions or need advice, feel free to contact us at Premier Solar Northwest. We’re here to assist you!