Solar energy is a powerful renewable resource that helps protect the planet. And it can also benefit your wallet, thanks to solar buyback programs. These programs work. Your electricity meter records how much energy you use vs. how much your solar panels produce. You’re compensated via bill credits when the former exceeds the latter.
What Is It?
The sun is a powerful renewable energy source that provides a significant portion of the world’s electricity needs. When a homeowner installs solar panels, they can generate more power than they use in a month. A buy back solar energy in California program returns this excess solar power to the grid. Depending on the utility, this can save the homeowner money on their electricity bill. Solar buyback is a great incentive program for homeowners in Texas. It allows households to push the excess electricity they produce through their smart meters back into the power grid. The local electric company pays the homeowner for this power, typically by giving them credit on their next energy bill. This allows the homeowner to save money on their energy bills while supporting renewable electricity production for all customers. To participate in a solar buyback program, the homeowner must have a smart meter installed on their home. The meter records the electricity they consume and generates throughout the day. Then, if their generation exceeds consumption, the power company will provide compensation for that extra energy through their energy plan. Most buyback programs will give the credits to the customer at the real-time wholesale electricity price, updated every 5 minutes based on supply/demand.
How Does It Work?
When solar panels generate more energy than your household uses during a billing cycle, the electricity company will credit your account with bill credits. This process is known as net metering, and it’s an important part of why so many homeowners save money with solar. Solar panels produce the most power during the day when sunlight is strongest. That extra energy is sent to the grid, where it’s used to power homes and businesses. Your energy meter then runs backward to grant you credits measured in kilowatt-hours. These credits can offset your electricity consumption and help you avoid paying for expensive peak demand charges from the electric company. You can also use your credits to claim the federal solar investment tax credit, which reduces the overall cost of your solar system by 30 percent.
How Do I Qualify?
To qualify for Buy Back Solar Energy, you must:
- Have an interconnection agreement with your TDU to connect your renewable energy system to the grid.
- Have a meter installed by your TDU that separately measures the in-flow and out-flow of electricity to and from your home.
- Be an Infuse residential electricity customer enrolled on a plan eligible for solar buyback.
You must also own your solar system instead of leasing one. Leasing a solar system forfeits valuable federal and state tax credits, which can reduce the cost of installing your system by 30 percent or more. These taxes, which function in much the same way as a rebate, can add up to thousands of dollars in savings. Most electric companies offer a net metering service compensating solar owners when their onsite generation exceeds their consumption. Under this arrangement, any excess kilowatt-hours are credited to your account at a lower rate than the retail electricity price of a kWh from local power plants, known as your avoided cost rate. Usually, this credit is rolled over a month after month until building consumption equals or surpasses solar generation. If your area has a municipal utility or electric cooperative, check with them to see if they offer similar compensation for excess generation.
What Can I Expect?
Solar energy to make your home more sustainable is great for our planet, but you may only need some electricity your renewable energy system generates. That’s where a buyback program can come in handy. By choosing a plan with an electricity company offering a solar buyback option, you can sell any excess kilowatt-hours of electricity your system creates back to the grid. Each time you send a kilowatt-hour of electricity to the grid, your utility bill is credited for the amount. The money you can save depends on a few factors, including your home’s location and local electricity rates. Homes near the equator, for example, see a larger return on investment due to the higher levels of sunlight they receive daily. Homes in areas with high electricity rates will also see a greater financial benefit from their solar panel system. Another factor to consider is whether you want to purchase your solar system outright or take out a loan. The former is the most financially efficient option because it allows you to avoid interest rates, while the latter may save you more upfront but will cost more in the long run.