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Frequently Asked Questions - Net Energy Metering Aggregation (NEMA)

CalCom Solar works hard to bring clients simple interpretation of complex new rules like Net Energy Meter Aggregation (NEMA) – also known as Aggregated Net Metering (ANM) – how it will affect you, how to benefit from it, what the process is. This FAQ pulls in a variety of answers on Aggregated Net Metering for Ag from the silly to the serious.

This new policy and the resulting tariffs are referred to by an alphabet soup of acronyms. Basically, all refer to the same program and the same concepts, and the dominant name will be worked out over the next few months.

NEM – Net Energy Metering. Metering that measures measures the difference between the amount of electricity generated by a customer (for example, by your solar array) and the amount of electricity supplied by the utlility (for example, at night) over a defined period of time.

NEMA – Net Energy Metering Aggregation. The ability to aggregate or combine multiple meters under a single, centralized source of renewable power generation (for example, a solar array) for the purposes of Net Energy Metering.

VNM – Virtual Net Metering. A holdover name from 2006 in certain publications; basically means the same as NEM.

ANM – Aggregated Net Metering. Another holdover name from 2006, basically means NEMA.

NEMA allows customers to offset more than one electric meter with power generated from just one solar electric array. That means that multiple meters – of different types / uses – can be offset by electricity generated by a central facility.

Each separate meter covered by NEMA does need to be listed with the utility.

Better Land Usage. Most importantly, the solar array does NOT need to be located near the meter(s) offset, but rather anywhere on “contiguous” property owned or leased by the meter owner. (definition of “contiguous” below.)

For growers, NEMA allows you to put solar on less productive land rather than smack in the middle of your orchard or vineyard, next to the meter.

Multiple Meters Offset. Switching from one field to another? Switching from surface to deep well pumping? Great! Offset your most expensive power. Each solar array can offset up to 1 MW AC (about 1.2 MW DC) of electricity used. Typically, that’s enough juice to offset several water pumps, or pumps plus home or shop usage, etc.

Different Meters Offset at Will. This point differs a bit between electric utilities. PG&E appears to allow (as of Feb 1, 2014) clients to assign meters as needed to the NEMA program, which would let you choose month by month which meters to offset. SCE requires 60 days’ notice of a change, and the change must remain in effect for 12 months.

Please ask for updates on this point – it is still ‘under construction.’

Centralized Solar Equals Less Construction, Maintenance Costs. Bigger is cheaper in solar: Instead of designing, permitting, and installing several smaller systems, we can build one for you that maximizes power offset while it minimizes short and long term costs.

The utilities have agreed that, for the purposes of NEMA, the solar array needs to be on the same property as the meters offset, or “within an unbroken chain of contiguous parcels that are solely owned, leased or rented by the customer-generator.”

For example, assume there are five parcels that form a cluster of contiguous parcels though two are separated from the others by a street, highway, or public thoroughfare. These five would still be considered contiguous.

The meters offset on contiguous parcels must all be owned, leased, or rented by the same customer-generator.

Per solar array the limit is 1 MW AC, or about 1.2 MW DC of electricity. However, a customer is allowed to have more than one array offsetting power on contiguous properties.

The utilities have agreed that, for the purposes of NEMA, the solar array needs to be on the same property as the meters offset, or “within an unbroken chain of contiguous parcels that are solely owned, leased or rented by the customer-generator.”

For example, assume there are five parcels that form a cluster of contiguous parcels though two are separated from the others by a street, highway, or public thoroughfare. These five would still be considered contiguous.

Varies by utility:

PG&E - $25 per account set up fee ($500 total cap if no more than 20 meters); $5 monthly billing fee.

SCE - $25 per account ($500 total cap); $20 a month billing fee.

SDG&E - $220 per account, no cap; no monthly fee (for now).

PGE requires metering on these accounts capable of separately measuring exports in 15-minute intervals. If you already have these meter(s), you’re good. IF you need a new meter, it must be installed at your own expense.

As noted above, the generating facility must have a capable meter. In addition, new transformers and other upgrades may also be required. Some of these may be the responsibility of the utility, others may be yours.

Yes. Existing generating facilities (read: solar arrays) can be used to offset aggregated consumption.

Under this new tariff, you will earn nothing for excess generation. No “Net Surplus Compensation” (NSC) will be offered for meters offset by any one NEM tariff.

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