To understand Aggregated Net Metering (ANM), also known as Net Energy Metering Aggregation (NEMA) it helps to first understand Net Metering.
Net Metering is the way utilities measure the net amount of electricity used by Ag customers who have solar panel systems. With Net Metering, the customer’s smart meter rolls forward when the customer is pulling electricity from the utility and rolls backward when the customer is exporting electricity to the utility. This allows the customer to offset electricity consumption at one time with excess generation at another time. Consumption and generation of electricity are valued at the same rate.
At the end of a billing period, the utility subtracts the backward meter rolls from the forward meter rolls to arrive at the customer’s net electric usage. Net Metering is based on a single meter/service point tied to a single solar panel, almost always in close proximity. This can create issues when a customer has:
- Multiple meters spread over multiple sites
- A single meter with high-electric usage, but has no room in the immediate vicinity to accommodate a solar panel system
- Operations where electrical use that varies significantly from year to year based on water deliveries.
This is where Aggregated Net Metering/Net Energy Metering Aggregation comes in. Aggregated Net Metering/Net Energy Metering Aggregation (also called Meter Aggregation or SB 594) takes advantage of smart meter technology to aggregate or combine electrical loads from multiple meters tied to a single, centralized solar panel system. Having a “pool” of solar power that can be shared by multiple meters delivers key benefits:
- A single solar panel system is less expensive to engineer, permit, and install…and easier and less expensive to maintain.
- Drive down the cost of solar even further with volume purchasing of panels for a central array. Much like purchasing anything else in bulk, you can maximize your savings by having one vs. many arrays.
- Streamlined permitting for faster approvals (1 site vs. multiple sites)
- You can own your electricity generation system and take advantage of depreciation and other benefits the same way as your utility provider
Eliminate/dramatically reduce crop displacement:
- Maximize placement flexibility to avoid displacing crops altogether
- Place solar panel systems on non-productive/unused land and put it to productive use
- Enjoy more installation options with a smaller footprint
- With centralized power production, you can plan for the future and hedge against rising energy costs in the most efficient and intelligent way.
In California, meters employing Aggregated Net Metering/Net Energy Metering Aggregation can be located:
- On the same property – multiple pumps/meters on a single farm
- On a different, adjacent property from the solar panel system – a cold storage facility across the street from a parking lot with a solar panel system carport structure
- On different, adjacent properties – for example an almond hulling facility (on a separate meter) across the street from an almond grove with multiple pumps/meters
There are a number of considerations that go into maximizing solar ROI with Aggregated Net Metering/Net Energy Metering Aggregation for Ag. Consult with a CalCom Solar Ag expert to get a custom analysis of your unique situation.