Net Metering Aggregation: What It Is and Why It Matters

By March 23, 2017Industry News

Net Energy Metering Aggregation (NEMA) expands the benefits of Net Metering to businesses that have multiple solar energy systems with non-solar metered electricity powering the same property.

Net Metering

Net Metering allows grid-tied solar users to sell excess energy back to utilities and receive credit to apply against electricity bills. For solar users with sites using electricity on multiple sites with multiple meters–like agriculture businesses that may have buildings, pumps and other electric facilities in disparate locations–NEMA allows them to credit solar power production against the business’ entire electrical usage rather than just the facilities directly tied to solar installation.

Previously, Net Metering only applied to the electrical usage measured on the meter attached to a solar installation.

Net Metering Aggregation

With NEMA, a single large PV system has the same practical effect as several smaller systems spread across multiple fields and is a more efficient way to design a renewable energy project. Without NEMA, it was much more difficult for agriculture businesses with multiple metered locations to get the full credit for all solar energy production.

NEMA also allows the combination of multiple meters that may be on different rate plans. For example, a home on a ranch may be subject to residential rates, while a pump station may be subject to commercial or agricultural rates.

In California, NEMA is open to all customers of PG&E, SCE and SDG&E, and to some customers of other public and private utilities. Each meter requires a $25 sign-up fee (maximum $500) and a $5 per month billing charge.

Requirements

The following requirements apply (from the California Climate and Agriculture Network).

All renewable energy producers who connect to the grid through Net Energy Metering can apply for NEMA. The following restrictions apply to NEMA meter arrangements:

  1. All meters must be on land owned, leased, or rented by the same customer. You will be asked to submit parcel maps to prove this.
  2. All meters must be on parcels that touch, in an unbroken chain, the parcel of the Generating Account. Parcels divided only by a road are allowed.
  3. One Generating Account is permitted per NEMA arrangement. If you have more than one system, create a separate NEMA arrangement for each system.

Today’s California NEMA program was added early in 2014 through the passage of Senate Bill 594. In 2016, California’s Investor Owned Utilities (IOUS) sought to have the program phased out. Solar users and the IOUs lobbied the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) heavily, and in January 2016 the commission left the program largely intact.

Widespread Support for NEMA

A diverse coalition of consumer, environmental, agricultural, and other business organizations backed the CPUC’s decision to preserve net metering.

“This decision gives farmers a practical way to lower their carbon footprint by maximizing the on-farm renewable energy they produce. By continuing net energy metering aggregation (NEMA), the CPUC recognized agriculture’s important role in providing solutions to climate change,” said Adam Kotin, associate policy director of California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN), said in a statement at the time of the ruling.