Spring fern Photo by Somelab
Seattle City Light LARRY WEIS, General Manager and CEO
Net Metering
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  1. What is changing on my billing statement?


    Your account number is changing. Please be sure to update your auto pay with the new account number. Production meters and their associated meter reads for the state’s annual renewable energy production incentive will now appear on the billing statement.

  2. Why is Seattle City Light making this change?


    City Light is upgrading its billing software to a more modern version with more flexibility and information for City Light and its customers. City Light’s goal is to have complete compliance with the state’s net metering law. Learn more about the net metering of electricity on the state website where it discusses the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 80.60: http://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=80.60) or search “Washington RCW 80.60” in your search engine.

  3. Will this affect my annual Washington State Production Incentive payment?


    No. The state incentive is paid based on your annual solar system production and is separate from the net billing meter.

  4. Does the billing system change affect community solar projects?


    No. Community solar participants will continue to see a one-time annual credit on their bill through 2020.

  5. What is an energy charge?


    An energy charge is the cost per kWh of the net electricity purchased from the utility. It is the portion of a customer’s bill for electric service based upon the electric energy (kWh) consumed and billed under an applicable rate schedule. If a customer produces more than they consume in a billing cycle, then the energy charge and associated taxes will drop to zero.

  6. What is a basic charge?


    A basic charge applies to all residential customers and is associated with metering and billing a customer. Customers will see a basic charge each billing cycle regardless of whether or not they are billed for an energy charge. Net metered customers have always paid this basic charge in the past and may not have noticed it was covered by a net metering or production credit balance on the bill. Going forward, no bill will go below the basic charge unless there is a payment credit or production metering credit on the bill. As of Aug. 24, 2016, the residential basic charge is $0.1483 cents per day or about $9 per two month billing cycle.

  7. How does net metering work?


    Net metering offsets the total electrical consumption billed by the energy generated, so the customer only pays for their total net amount of electricity consumed during any billing period. This allows solar customers to send excess power to the utility if their system is producing more than they need, while still having the reliability of the electrical grid and the option to purchase power from the utility when their system is not producing enough to cover their total electricity need.

  8. What is a kWh credit?


    A kWh credit is the excess kWh that a customer produced and did not use during a given billing cycle. This kWh credit will be rolled forward each billing cycle for a customer’s future use. Most customers will accumulate kWh credits in the summer months and begin using any available kWh credit in the fall. Instead of monetizing excess kWh net metering balances on each billing statement, City Light will credit customers in kWh.

  9. How are credits applied?


    Power is measured in units of a kilowatt (kW = 1000 watts). A kilowatt-hour (kWh) is a measure of the flow of electricity over an hour - 100 10-watt LED lights turned on for 1 hour = 1 kWh. When you generate excess power (more power is produced than is consumed) as recorded by your net billing meter, this causes your meter to "spin" backwards and can result in negative consumption for that billing period. Negative consumption results in a kWh credit on your bill for use later in the net metering year. If you have zero or negative kWh consumption, your energy charge will be zero, and you will be billed for a basic meter charge. If at any point later in the net metering year, more power is used than the system has produced at the end of your billing cycle, you will be billed for consumption (power bought from the utility). If you have kWh credits, the actual net consumption each billing cycle will first be reduced by those credits. If there is not enough kWh credits to cover the total actual consumption in a billing period, then you will be billed for energy charges on the remaining billable consumption. Any excess kWh credits remaining on April 30 from the previous net metering year (January 1 - December 31) will be forfeited, and the new net metering year will begin. The value of kWh credits depends on your retail power rate and varies by customer, time of year, and usage.

  10. What is the difference between the net metering and the Washington State Renewable Energy Production Incentive?


    Net metering for all interconnected systems is associated with your billing meter. This type of meter is bi-directional meaning it can register kWh forward or backward depending on whether power is being consumed from or returned to the electrical grid. This gives City Light a single net read for your usage. A separate production meter is associated with your solar system and the Washington State production incentive payment is calculated from the total kWh produced annually between July 1 and June 30 each year through 2020.

  11. I have zero kWh credits. Is my solar array working correctly?


    The kWh credit is for excess power generated that is sent back to the electric grid beyond consumption. Many customers will carry a zero kWh credit or will only see credits during the summer months when they are producing more kWh than they are using. You will always use your own power first, so the kWh that you produce and use yourself lowers your bill.

  12. What if I produce more than I consume on an annual basis?


    On April 30 each year, any remaining kWh credits accumulated in the previous year will be forfeited per state law. The net metering year is calendar year (January 1 to December 31). Customers will then have a four-month grace period to use any kWh credited in 2016 before the April 30, 2017 reset. Any new kWh credits accumulated between January 1 and April 30 will be applied to 2017 net metering year. City Light anticipates very few customers to be affected by this reset, and should customers forfeit kWh credit, City Light will transfer those unused credits to its Utility Discount Program and/or Project Share Program that assists income-eligible customers.

  13. Why can't I just keep rolling kWh credits forward?


    Per state law, the credit is reset to zero annually. The vast majority of customers will not be affected by the annual reset and it will not affect production incentives.

  14. What if I have battery backup or multiple services or production meters?


    Customers with multiple production meters, either through battery back-up or multiple systems, will see each production meter individually listed on their bill. For customers with multiple billing meters, you may see those billing meters listed on the same bill as your net meter.

  15. I'm starting to hear about Advanced Metering. What does that mean to me?


    The majority of City Light customers will begin seeing the Advanced Metering installation in 2017. These meters will give City Light the ability to read your net and production meters daily. This will benefit customers in meeting the requirements for both net and production metering programs. It will also give you and City Light more data to track exactly what you are using and sending back to the electrical grid. It will also benefit customers and City Light, as in the future, when a customer with an advanced meter decides to add solar, it will be possible to remotely change that meter from a standard billing meter to a net meter.
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SCLEnergyAdvisor@seattle.gov

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    700 5th Avenue
    Suite 3200
    P.O. Box 34023
    Seattle, WA 98124-4023


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