What is net-metering?
Net metering allows users of distributed renewable energy systems (solar panels, micro-turbines etc) usually owned by homeowners or business owners rather than utility-owned property to feed excess power to the grid. In many states where net-metering is implemented, it allows for distributed generation consumers to sell excess electricity to a utility at a retail rate and receive credit on their utility bill.
How net-metering works with solar panels
Net metering allows solar users connected to the utility grid to feed excess solar electricity produced by their solar panels back to the grid. In many cases, this happens during the day when there is plenty of sunlight and by feeding excess solar power to the grid, solar users obtain a credit that is normally at the retail price in many states. Solar users are provided with a bi-directional meter which can move forward or backwards depending on whether the solar user is feeding or drawing power from the grid. The meter runs forward when the solar user is drawing power from the grid (a situation that happens mainly at night when there is no sunlight) or run backwards when solar power is been fed into the grid.
So with net-metering; Are solar panels worth it?
Net metering is one factor that helps to answer the question: Are solar panels worth it? This is because with net-metering solar users are able to reduce their energy bills when they receive a credit. Where net-metering is available, there is no need to use batteries to store excess solar power, because the utility grid is used to store this excess power which can be used by other homeowners or businesses nearby, while the solar panel owner receives a credit that lowers their bill received from their utility company.
However, to answer the question: Are solar panels worth it with net metering? It depends on whether your state is implementing net-metering and the approach taken with regard to compensation or net metering tariff structure. For instance, the utility company may charge net-metering solar users for utilizing their grid and when utilities do this, this may affect the overall cost of switching to solar. Therefore depending on what state you are and what net-metering tariff is being implemented in your state; this will affect your payback period for your solar panels and the savings you can achieve when you switch to solar. To learn more about net-metering and approach taken by your state, you can check here.
With the decreasing solar panel cost and PV technology advancement, it is a matter of time when solar PV will reach grid parity and compete well without subsidies. This means more energy savings as the PV technology will be cheaper as the only thing to be paid for will be the solar panels and cost of installation as solar energy is free and abundant in nature.
To learn more about your specific location, your solar panel cost and savings that you would achieve for your specific case, get started with this solar panel cost calculator to determine how much you would save when you switch to solar. Here you will discover whether solar panels are worth it for your home or business.