NEM 2.0 - Zero Dollar Electric Bill Possible?

LithiumGuy

Corralling Electrons
If a residential home in California is on a NEM 2.0 contract, is it possible to have a $0 electric bill or near-zero electric bill? Further, not just $0 but what about money back?

The thing that makes it hard to get $0 is the NBC (Non-Bypassable Charges) but installing a sufficiently large home battery could essentially eliminate all NBC charges (0 grid usage) and possibly even money back at True-up with any of surplus export right?

I'm interested in the NEM 2.0 rules and not so much the specific technology for this post. Just assume there's some type of energy storage technology that allows the house energy needs be completely powered by its solar panels (both day & night) and have a decent amount of surplus energy to export back to the grid on a monthly basis. How does this affect NEM 2.0 bill? Thanks.
 

FilterGuy

What, me worry?
Are you with PG&E?
With PG&E there is ~$10/month minimum fee to be connected. Furthermore, the way the true-up works is that you can get the bill down to the $10/month but no lower. The only way I know of to get to $0 would be to disconnect from PG&E completely.

I am pretty sure that in all of CA, net metering will never let you earn money from residential solar. I am not sure about the $10/month minimum but I would be surprised of the other power utilities companies don't have something similar.
 

LithiumGuy

Corralling Electrons
Yes, I'm with PG&E. Correct, there is a $10/mo minimum "connection fee" and I have actually encountered that.

But I was thinking that minimum connection fee might not apply when a home is on a NEM 2.0 contract though. Or that the True-up would basically eliminate that minimum connection at the end of the year. So if the home was actually charged that $120/year minimum connection fee but the True-up is return is at least $120 then that effectively eliminates that connection fee.

Have you actually encountered the minimum connection fee while on NEM 2.0 and gone through the annual True-up with it? Thanks.
 

FilterGuy

What, me worry?
I have been on PG&E net meetering for ~14 years. The good news is that I am on a really old rate plan that is no longer available and is very favorable to the solar consumer. My peak energy price is mid day when solar generation is high and my use is low. Unfortunately, that is going to expire next year.

Yes, for several years I have hit the $10/month at true-up. Before they instituted the $10 min, I had years of $0 true-up. However, it was because I am selling high priced energy mid day and buying low priced energy in the evening.... not because I produced more energy than I used.

I am not sure what NEM 2.0 is so I may not be on it and my grandfathered situation may not apply to your question. The PG&E billing is incredibly complex and figuring out what they mean seems nearly impossible.
 

LithiumGuy

Corralling Electrons
Thanks for that info! Looks like you've been on NEM 1.0 since the early 2000s. Yes, that is a sweet deal.

From my research, NEM 2.0 came in around 2017 across all three of the CA investor owned power companies. It made residential solar slightly less sweet with NBC, time-of-use plans and that minimum charge apparently.

But wait until proposed NEM 3.0 comes in 2022! NEM 3.0 will kill off residential and smaller scale solar in California. Exported power will receive only "whole sale" rates which is around 2-cents/kwh. Also a $50 to $80 monthly charge to homes simply for having solar on their roofs. It will be the end of future residential solar in California if NEM 3.0 comes to pass even close to its proposed requirements. It also proposes only a 5 to 10 year grandfather clause for NEM 2.0. After that, homes would be economically better off to remove their solar panels from their homes.

I can only think that power companies like PG&E are facing an existential crisis to push such a ridiculous proposal. It goes against the green energy movement and against the distributed power system architecture which is the wave of the future since distributed systems are more resilient against outages. It doesn't help that PG&E is so poorly managed and only just came out of bankruptcy either. They have some balls for sure.
 

LithiumGuy

Corralling Electrons
2 words...

off grid
Yep, presuming plenty of sunlight available year round. But would need a very powerful inverter preferably low-frequency type. In-rush loads from fridge compressors and power tool motors are big challenges. Not to mention typical A/C units.
 

FilterGuy

What, me worry?
Yep, presuming plenty of sunlight available year round. But would need a very powerful inverter preferably low-frequency type. In-rush loads from fridge compressors and power tool motors are big challenges. Not to mention typical A/C units.
It would also require a very large solar array and a place to put it.
 

400bird

Solar Enthusiast
I'm on NEM 2.0 with PGE

We oversized the PV install in 2018 assuming I would increase my driving the electric car. PGE highly discourages this and they ended up calling me about it to discuss the oversize approval.

I got a new job shortly after and actually drive significantly less 🤷‍♂️

In the two true ups so far I have gotten a roughly $40 credit for the year. I still paid the ~$10/month NBC, so not $0, but you can get some credit back.


I just installed a Schneider XW inverter and lithium battery. It can start most anything I've thrown at it, even the central air conditioner (but I did add a soft start to that) it has started the refrigerator, drill press, bench grinder, etc. I haven't tried the table saw or chop saw, but I think it will be fine.

I have no idea how this will effect my PGE bill, but I can't see it making much difference...
 

Bud Martin

Photon Sorcerer
I did not know that PG&E can dictate how much solar power you can install in your own house, it look like they are over reaching.
 

FilterGuy

What, me worry?
I did not know that PG&E can dictate how much solar power you can install in your own house, it look like they are over reaching.
One thing they can do is say that the transformer can't handle the power....and then say you have to pay for the transformer upgrade if you want to backfeed onto the grid.

The reality is that Solar is so wide spread in CA that it is a problem for the utilities. There are days when there was so much generation that CA had to pay other states to take the excess power. The grid was not built for the wild swings in generated power that solar causes. Right now CA does not need more solar.... they need storage. Some storage is going in (look up Moss Landing), but even the worlds largest grid storage system is just a drop in the bucket of what is needed.

Our politicians are not making it any better. They have mandated solar on all new home construction and they are forcing the utilities to shut down the natural gas peaker plants. So now we have feast or famine. On normal sunny days in the summer we have too much power so they have to pay other states to take it but on hot sunny days, there is not enough power to run all the air conditioners and without the peaker plants we get black-outs.
 

Bud Martin

Photon Sorcerer
My house has gas stove which I love and Gas water, so during the rolling back out I can still cook my food and still have hot water, but now I wonder what will happen if they start shutting down gas supply, I have a feeling that the price of gas will go up big time.
 

wattmatters

Solar Addict
I did not know that PG&E can dictate how much solar power you can install in your own house, it look like they are over reaching.
This is normal in Australia.

Every grid tied embedded generation system requires connection approval from the local electricity distributor, and they set the limits on system size and the power one may maximally export to the grid. Usually expressed as per phase limits. Typical limits are 10kW of inverter capacity and a 5kW export limit per phase but it varies by distribution region. In some cases the export limit is zero because the local infrastructure is unable to accept any more.

In the state of South Australia, which at more than 35% of all households has the highest penetration of grid tied rooftop solar PV systems in Australia, new installations must now also be connected to a remote control system such that the distributor can turn off the home's solar PV in the event it is required to ensure grid stability. In return for this capability, the distributor has doubled the limit on grid tied solar PV which may be installed.
 

Mia

New Member
One thing they can do is say that the transformer can't handle the power....and then say you have to pay for the transformer upgrade if you want to backfeed onto the grid.

The reality is that Solar is so wide spread in CA that it is a problem for the utilities. There are days when there was so much generation that CA had to pay other states to take the excess power. The grid was not built for the wild swings in generated power that solar causes. Right now CA does not need more solar.... they need storage. Some storage is going in (look up Moss Landing), but even the worlds largest grid storage system is just a drop in the bucket of what is needed.

Our politicians are not making it any better. They have mandated solar on all new home construction and they are forcing the utilities to shut down the natural gas peaker plants. So now we have feast or famine. On normal sunny days in the summer we have too much power so they have to pay other states to take it but on hot sunny days, there is not enough power to run all the air conditioners and without the peaker plants we get black-outs.
What’s the negative regarding requiring solar for new construction? Personally, that’s the way to go for the moment imho if we ever hope to reduce greenhouse climate effects… if the utility companies need to invest in storage now, or to sell it to other states, or do some other sort of energy sharing with the other states, so be it. (Another way to help decrease the emissions, is for businesses to allow telecommuting to stay in effect…so many employees that demonstrated that it’s possible and it was/is good for the environment.)
 

FilterGuy

What, me worry?
What’s the negative regarding requiring solar for new construction? Personally, that’s the way to go for the moment imho if we ever hope to reduce greenhouse climate effects… if the utility companies need to invest in storage now, or to sell it to other states, or do some other sort of energy sharing with the other states, so be it. (Another way to help decrease the emissions, is for businesses to allow telecommuting to stay in effect…so many employees that demonstrated that it’s possible and it was/is good for the environment.)
There is a couple downsides.

1) The housing price in CA is already so high it is creating homeless problems. Furthermore a lot of people that can't afford housing close to where they work end buy an hour or more away and then driving ICE powered cars to get to work.

2) When the solar exceeds the grids ability to handle it, it threatens the stability of the grid. That is why the people in charge get desperate and actually *pay* other states to take the power. If they ever get to a place where they can't find someone to take the power the grid could start collapsing.

Meanwhile the ignorant politicians think that since the state has so much solar they can order the shutdown of gas powered peaker plants. Then, when the peaker plants *are* needed, we don't have them and we get blackouts while the controllers try to stabilize the grid.

It all adds up to the typical government intervention...... they have no clue (or don't care) what their requirements will do to the real world and end up screwing things up. That is why Californians are moving out of California faster than people are coming into the state.
 

time2roll

Photon Sorcerer
I don't think anyone with excess credits gets paid at the retail rates. Always the wholesale rates of 2 to 6 cents per kWh.

Also must be a net generator to get even the wholesale rates. If you make money on the TOU spread it will only bring you to zero. Excess credits are lost. Must be a net generator and only credited on the net generation.

I am with SCE and have a smallish system generating maybe 60% of usage. By the gift of timing TOU my annual energy true up has been less than $100 almost every year. Excellent value with this method as the installation cost is much smaller. My solar investment was recovered in full at 60 months. Soon will have paid for itself twice.
 

Jerrys13

Solar Enthusiast
I don't think anyone with excess credits gets paid at the retail rates. Always the wholesale rates of 2 to 6 cents per kWh.

Also must be a net generator to get even the wholesale rates. If you make money on the TOU spread it will only bring you to zero. Excess credits are lost. Must be a net generator and only credited on the net generation.

I am with SCE and have a smallish system generating maybe 60% of usage. By the gift of timing TOU my annual energy true up has been less than $100 almost every year. Excellent value with this method as the installation cost is much smaller. My solar investment was recovered in full at 60 months. Soon will have paid for itself twice.
You are correct Sir! They buy back Whole Sale.
 

FilterGuy

What, me worry?
Each state and maybe each utility is different. Furthermore, some utilities grandfather in older, better plans.

I put in solar 13 or 14 years ago and went on a very favorable time-of-day plan were I bought and sold power at the same price. What was really great was that the most expensive power was mid day when I was producing power but not using much. Consequently, my annual power bill went to zero even though I was using more power than I produced. (I had enough credits that I should have been paid, but that is not allowed) Then they added a $10/month minimum so my annual bill went to ~$120. The good news is I was not kicked off that great plan....but next year my good fortune runs out and I will be on a whole new plan. I will still buy and sell at retail (I think), but the most expensive power will be late afternoon/early evening so my bill is going to go up substantially.

I am still debating what I will do.... I am seriously considering adding a bunch of panels and batteries and disconnect the utility. I can not justify that financially but it sure would feel good to stick it to the utility.

BTW: Here in California the polititions and the Public Utility Commision are all in the pockets of the utilities so the utilities keep being less reliable, get susidies from the state and charge their customers more. Power is now so unreliable that it is starting to feel like we are in a 3rd world country. The only good news is that the courts made them pay for the forest fires they caused by not maintaining their power lines for the last 30 years.
 

Jerrys13

Solar Enthusiast
There is a couple downsides.

1) The housing price in CA is already so high it is creating homeless problems. Furthermore a lot of people that can't afford housing close to where they work end buy an hour or more away and then driving ICE powered cars to get to work.

2) When the solar exceeds the grids ability to handle it, it threatens the stability of the grid. That is why the people in charge get desperate and actually *pay* other states to take the power. If they ever get to a place where they can't find someone to take the power the grid could start collapsing.

Meanwhile the ignorant politicians think that since the state has so much solar they can order the shutdown of gas powered peaker plants. Then, when the peaker plants *are* needed, we don't have them and we get blackouts while the controllers try to stabilize the grid.

It all adds up to the typical government intervention...... they have no clue (or don't care) what their requirements will do to the real world and end up screwing things up. That is why Californians are moving out of California faster than people are coming into the state.
I am with SCE as an adopter in 2013. I believe I am in NEM 1.0 which will expire soon for me as well.
What the CPUC (California Public Utilities Commission) did was bait and switch! We received tax credits for the installation of solar and were told we would not have an electric bill. However that was when (and really still is) peak demand was between 12:00 Noon and 4:00 PM. In order for the utility companies to still make money off folks with solar, they switched the times to 4:00 PM - 8:00 PM. There is not REAL demand during this time as the businesses (who mostly account for the high usage demand) shut down. All that heavy machinery, all those plants, slow consumption wayyyy down, However at 4PM people are getting home turning on TV's , lights, cooking on electric ranges etc. The big push was EV's. You will have no choice but to charge at your home during the *NEW peak times. All the while during the day you get 0.002 per KWH your home is producing.

Switching the times of "Peak Demand" was a bait and switch. I thought ahead and oversized my panels by putting the eletric bill in my girlfriends name. See SCE does an audit of your year prior use to determine the size of array they will allow you to put on your home, While I was in Afghanistan my girl only used 4.1 KW on average. I knew when I returned home I would be using a lot more. So we (on paper) said I was moving out and she was moving in and the installation company provided an excel spread sheet of all her high energy usage items, So we were able to then justify 8.2 Kilowatts of array (which is most of the roof). This has served me well because in winter months because I put back more than I take in. I have received back as much as $200.00 from SCE. This last year we used a lot so I only got back $9.67 but that is better than paying.
 
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