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BENEFITS OF VIRTUAL NET METERING


Virtual net metering (VNM) is a bill crediting system for community solar. It refers to when solar is not used on-site but is instead externally installed and shared among subscribers. In this case, you receive credits on your electric bill for excess energy produced by your share of a solar garden. It is also known as virtual meter aggregation.

Net metering simply allows a customer who installs a solar array to get the same value for every kWh produced, whether it is used immediately by the customer, or passed back to the grid and used at a later time. Utility customers are typically issued a meter to measure the amount of electricity being delivered from the grid. Organizations set up for solar net metering use specialized bidirectional meters that also track the amount of electricity flowing back to their local power grid.

So when you’re (literally) burning the midnight oil, the bi-directional meter records how much electricity is being delivered to your facility. And on the "sunny side," if your solar panel system is in full swing and producing more energy than your operation can use the meter records how much electricity is received by the utility. A third reading on the meter displays the difference between the amounts delivered and received, or “net” energy use.

Virtual net metering allows the customer to not only gain the benefit of each kWh produced for that meter but also to credit additional kWh’s to another meter.

The primary benefit of virtual meter aggregation is lower cost. Sometimes this can result in a larger or more efficient solar array installation. For example, if a client has two meters, each of which uses 50,000 kWh/year, he can potentially install one 80 kW (kilowatt) solar array to cover the usage for both meters rather than two separate 40 kW solar arrays, one for each meter. This typically results in lower costs. Even if physical meter aggregation would be possible, typically the costs for physical meter aggregation would be significantly higher than for virtual meter aggregation.

How bill credits work with virtual net metering?

Virtual net metering offers weighted credits determined by your portion of the solar array, which helps you account for the kWh of energy that your solar panels are generating. VNM is also referred to as aggregated or community net metering – it is an incentive that is shared among multiple people who own a share of a community solar array.

The amount of virtual net metering credits you receive depends on the size of your share in the community solar system. For example, if you own 25 percent of a community solar array, you’ll be credited for 25 percent of the production of that system. The credits will appear on your electric bill, offering you a significant cost reduction on your energy spending without the hassle of having panels installed and maintained on your own roof. In a sense, the massive solar array in which you hold stock will provide virtual energy to your home, and VNM credits are how you account for that energy. 



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