Zero Out Your Utility Bill with Strawberry Solar

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Look closely at the picture of the bill above.  Notice anything different from the bill you received last month from your local utility?

At Strawberry Solar, we design solar arrays for your home that completely eliminate your electricity bill.  The image on the left shows a before solar bill and the image on the right shows the exact same customers bill one year later after they added a Strawberry Solar array to their home.  If you notice the only thing the customer is paying for now is the cost to be connected to the grid.

If you live in Michigan, for systems that are under 20kW, you are allowed to design and install a system that will offset up to 100% of your consumption based on historical use rates through an incredible policy called "Net Metering."

Net metering billing practices are split into two distinct categories. All qualifying customer generators up to 20 kilowatts (kW) are eligible for "true" net metering, while systems between 20 kW and 150 kW are eligible for "modified" net metering.* 

True Net Metering requires your utility to monitor how much energy your solar power system produces and how much energy you actually consume, and make sure you get credit for the surplus.

For the majority of Michigan homeowners, Michigan has a very strong net metering law that lets you carry over all Net Excess Generation (“NEG”) (i.e. your surplus) at the full retail electricity rate. NEG credits are applied to your next month’s bill, and if you continue to run a surplus, the credits can be carried over indefinitely to apply toward future charges.

We design systems to offset ideally 100% of our customers usage. We use simulation software that pulls from over 60 years of NASA weather data to make this analysis. If necessary we will take a Solar Pathfinder to site to verify those simulations.

In general, the capacity of an individual system is limited to that which will meet their own needs. The rules describe several options a customer can use to arrive at this value.

Category 1 vs Category 2 Net Metered projects.

Net metering billing practices are split into two distinct categories. All qualifying customer generators up to 20 kilowatts (kW) are eligible for "true" net metering, while most systems between 20 kW and 150 kW are eligible for "modified" net metering.

For the average homeowner in Michigan, it is rare for to need 20kW or more of solar.  For Business Customers with high usage you may end up needing more the 20kW of solar and this would push you into a Category 2 Net Metered project, otherwise known as "Modified Net Metering."

Modified net metering (facilities up to 150 kW) allows Net Excess Generation to carry over at the power supply component of the retail rate (i.e., energy avoided cost) or the monthly average real-time locational marginal price for energy at the commercial pricing node within the electric provider’s distribution service territory each billing period. 


Net Excess Generation can be carried forward indefinitely. 

Credits associated with modified net metering may not be applied against distribution charges. 

Systems larger than 150 kW must pay standby charges. This practice does not meet the definition of net metering as it is generally understood, thus this summary considers only systems up to 150 kW as eligible for net metering.

Our company takes a different design approach for Category 1 and Category 2 projects to maximize the value of going solar. Many Category 2 customers are able to eat all of the kWh produced by there solar array without exporting any excess generation back to the grid. 

With the cost of solar dropping at unprecedented rates, on average the homeowner is experiencing significant savings by going solar over the 25 year lifetime of the project.

For more information on the most recent energy legislation related to Michigan net metering policy check Greentech Media's article here.

Brandon Knight