Net Metering Explained

How Does Net Metering Work in Oregon and Washington?

Oregon and Washington’s net metering law allows all utility customers to generate their own electricity and reduce their electricity bills. If you install a solar electric system, your utility will come to your site and switch out your existing utility meter for a bidirectional “net” meter (there is no charge for the new meter). This meter keeps track of the power you acquire from the utility and what you supply to the grid. Each month, the power you use from your utility is offset by the power you send to the utility. You are only charged for the difference or the “net.”

If you generate more power than you use in a given month, your electric bill will have no kilowatt-hour charges, and you will only have to pay the basic utility service charges — typically about $12 per month. The surplus energy will generate kilowatt-hour credits that will be applied to your future electric bills. Unused credits will accumulate in your Portland General Electric or Pacific Power account. This means credits accumulated during sunny summer months can be applied to charges during Oregon’s cloudy winter months.


Let’s say your solar panel system provides 200 kWh of energy in a month. Here are three examples of how energy is measured at the net meter:

Monthly Energy ConsumptionNet Meter Reading
200 kWh0 kWH usage from your utility company
100 kWh-100 kWh (a credit to your account)
500 kWh300 kWh usage from your utility company

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