Even though you’re producing your own energy with solar, the utility company still serves a purpose. The majority of installations are “grid-tied” meaning you are still connected to the utility’s network and your power is tracked through “net-metering.”

In the evenings when your panels are not producing power, you’ll use electricity from the utility, and your meter will count your use normally. But on a sunny day, you’ll produce even more than you’re using. This power will be fed to the utility’s grid, you will receive credits for the power that is being shared with others, and your meter will start spinning backwards! (Well, meters are digital these days, so that’s actually become a figurative expression…)

This is called net-metering because you will then pay for your net-use, the balance of what you’ve used minus what you’ve produced. As long as you aren’t using more than you’re producing, you will not be charged for electricity, and may even end up with a credit for the month.

Your utility company will still process a minimum customer charge for the services they provide; this fee will remain on your monthly bill, typically between $8 and $14.

A Sunpower Elite Dealer