Following major changes to California’s net metering program, you may be wondering if the current net metering system could be going away in New York too. At a time when major solar states like California are making policy decisions that devalue home solar, New York’s policies could be brought into question too.

Read to learn about what happened in California and what it means for Con Edison’s net metering program in New York City.

What is net metering?

Simply put, net metering is a billing mechanism that credits solar owners for electricity that they export into the grid. 

As a residential solar owner in NYC, you remain connected to the grid. After your solar PV system is installed, Con Edison will keep track how much energy is flowing in and out of your home. 

During the daytime, your solar system will likely produce a lot more energy than your home actually needs. All of that excess energy feeds back into the grid, and you’ll receive credits for it on your future Con Ed bills. These credits are then used up at times when your home needs more energy than your solar system is currently supplying, like at night or on a very rainy day.

What are the financial benefits of net metering?

Through this program, NYC solar owners are able to bank a ton of credits during the summertime and see their bills drastically reduced all year-round. The current system in NYC values solar at the retail rate, meaning your solar power is just as valuable as grid electricity and will increase in value over time as retail rates rise.

Net metering in its current form could be considered a virtual battery – it allows you to utilize the full value of your solar production even when the sun isn’t shining. This is important because FDNY currently does not allow solar batteries in residential settings. Net metering ensures New Yorkers benefit financially from all of the energy their solar systems produce.

Net metering summary solar in nyc
A NYC solar owner’s Con Edison bill showing two year’s worth of net metering credits.

Is net metering the same for all states?

Net metering programs differ across the country, as they’re determined by states and utility companies. In some arrangements, like here in New York City, Con Edison values solar at the retail rate. Other programs, however, value solar at less than retail or at a predetermined amount.

Unfortunately, as interest in home solar grows across the US, net metering policies from state to state have been under scrutiny.

What happened to California’s net metering program?

For a long time, special interests and opponents to solar have been attempting to enact changes to California’s net metering program. Previously, there was a proposal to implement a monthly charge of up to $50 for solar owners – essentially a solar tax. 

While that proposal was not approved, in December of 2022, California’s Public Utilities Commission approved a plan to reduce the value of solar exported into the power grid by an average of 75% (!). This new policy will affect customers who install solar systems starting in April 2023 in the service areas of CA’s three investor-owned utility companies – 75% of the state’s population.

Under the new policy, Californians won’t be able to reap the benefits of net metering – instead, they’ll be subject to “net billing.” Net billing compensates solar owners on an avoided-cost basis, meaning the utility decides how valuable the power export is based on when and where it’s produced. 

Needless to say, this policy change is a major blow to California’s solar industry. It drastically reduces the immediate savings that families receive from installing solar, and increases the payback period by several years. As a result, home solar will be far less affordable and accessible to California residents – at a time when climate-related natural disasters continue to escalate and energy costs continue to rise.

What does this mean for New York’s net metering policies?

Policy changes like California’s represent a growing trend of efforts to reduce the growth of solar in the US, often influenced by political opponents and utility and fossil fuel interests. In recent years, states such as Nevada, Hawaii, Florida, and North Carolina have all seen similar proposals and bills meant to undermine solar.

New York is no stranger to uncertain solar policy either. The state’s utilities have sought to change net metering here too – most recently, a monthly solar tax from Con Edison was implemented for new solar owners as of January 2022.

For now, net metering in New York City is safe. But there have been changes, and there will likely be more. If California – the largest solar market in the country – can enact anti-solar policies like this one, it’s not implausible that it could happen here too.

Go Solar Now to Lock in 20 Years of Savings

It’s not all bad news though! If you’re considering solar for your home in NYC, the benefits of net metering are still available to you. If you go solar now, you’ll be locked into Con Ed’s current net metering arrangement for the next 20 years. So, even if there’s a chance that net metering could go away in New York, your savings will be safe.

Get ahead of the uncertainty and go solar now! Schedule your free consultation & learn if your home qualifies for solar.

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