Why are homeowners going solar in Montana?
One reason might be that they’re able to go from rate hikes and dirty energy, to clean electricity generated right on their roof. Homeowners across Montana looking for energy independence are choosing solar.
Keep reading for our guide that breaks down the aspects of net metering in Montana, including how it can help you save year round when you switch to solar.
Continue reading below to find out how it all works!
What is Net Metering (NEM)?
In simple terms, Net Metering is a process where power companies compensate homeowners with solar systems for the excess energy those systems generate.
With technological advancements in the last few years, solar panels are increasingly efficient, and home solar energy systems regularly produce more energy than the average household can use immediately.
Net metering uses your home’s electrical system and the power grid in your community to safely store any extra energy your solar energy system produces back in the utility grid.
Despite power companies lobbying to take away this perk for homeowners, in Montana NEM is still legally mandated.
That means that companies like NorthWestern Energy have to compensate you when your home solar energy system produces excess energy that heads back to the grid in your community. Homeowners receive compensation in the form of credit from NorthWestern Energy to your account.
While this credit can’t be cashed out, having it saved means that it can be used when your solar panels aren’t producing at peak efficiency during foggy Montana mornings, a snowstorm or overnight. You can dip back into that bank of credits and have solar power your home no matter the weather.
Net metering helps homeowners who want to go solar wipe out their power bills.
How Does Net Metering in Montana Work Exactly?
Homeowners don’t necessarily have to know step-by-step how NEM works just to have solar at home. However, it’s important to understand the basics:
When you make the switch to solar, officials from NorthWestern Energy, Montana-Dakota Utilities, and other utility providers will come out and swap out your current unidirectional meter with a bidirectional meter.
This swap should not cost you anything from the power company. Your new net meter connects to your rooftop solar panels. The electricity your panels generate beyond what is actually used in your home is tracked through the bidirectional meter on its way back to the grid where it’s stored for future use.
At the end of the monthly billing period, your utility provider will tally how much power you sent back to the grid, subtract the amount of electricity you used, and bill or credit you the difference.
For homeowners in Montana with solar that’s professionally designed to meet their energy needs, most will only ever pay the required service charge to be connected to the grid – hovering around $10 each month.
No more renting your power: now you have the energy independence of solar energy right at home.
How Does Net Metering Help Homeowners Save?
The high, wide, and handsome landscape of Montana brings plenty of sunny months and days where your solar panels will produce more power than can be immediately used.
When you wind up producing more power than can be consumed, the excess energy is metered back onto the grid, and payment for the energy is stored on your account as a credit. While the power company won’t be sending you a check for this credit, it will still help you save.
During the longer winter nights or snowstorms, or that thirty minutes of an intense spring rain, the credit on your account goes towards any energy you do need to pull from the electrical grid. Even when your panels aren’t able to produce at their highest peak, they’ll still help wipe out your power bill using NEM.
But what happens if you generate tons of extra energy with your solar system, and wind up with a larger credit on your account than you can use that month?
In Montana, NorthWestern keeps those credits on your account for 12 months. So you’ll have a good amount of time to draw on any credits accumulated. If you happen to have excess credits on your account at the 12 month mark, the power company will zero that amount out and keep the money for themselves.
That sort of greed is all the more reason to stop renting your power from the energy companies and own your power with a solar system.
Purelight Can Help You Save!
Many states are attempting to take away the net metering programs for good, eliminating the financial benefits of residential solar. Montana has come close before and could be next.
Don’t miss out on saving with solar and net metering! Find out if your roof qualifies for Purelight Power’s affordable, zero down program.
Take our 30-second survey and find out instantly before Montana gets rid of net metering.