Net Metering FAQs

Net metering allows you to send electricity generated from wind/solar installations to the distribution system for a credit towards your electricity costs. Excess generation credits can be carried forward for a consecutive 12-month period to offset future electricity costs. We’ve assembled what we thought were questions and concerns about net metering and will update as we get more inquiries.

+- What is net metering?

Net metering is an arrangement that allows you to feed generation from renewable energy resources that you do not use onto the NOTL Hydro grid in return for a credit that can be applied against future energy consumption.

+- What is the difference between net metering and just installing renewable generation to supply my home or business?

Most renewable generation only provides electricity at certain times of the day. If you do not have a net metering contract then you will have to purchase electricity at all the other times. You will also not be allowed to feed any excess generation onto the NOTL Hydro grid. A net metering contract effectively allows you to use the excess generation at these other times. The net metering contract is like your own electricity storage device.

+- Are there any restrictions on the installation of renewable energy for net metering?

Yes. The NOTL Hydro grid can only handle so much renewable generation. There are engineering constraints that limit the amount of renewable generation due to impacts on voltages and electricity quality. Talk to NOTL Hydro to ensure your home or business is not in a constrained area. NOTL Hydro is working on ways to increase the amount of allowable renewable generation.

+- What types of generation qualify for net metering?

Only renewable generation qualifies for net metering. This would include solar, wind, hydro and biomass. The most common type of generation is solar. If you are unsure please contact NOTL Hydro.

+- What do I need to do to get net metering?

You need to do four things. 1. You need to install renewable generation. 2. You need to have this generation connected to your house or business so that the electricity is used with only excess electricity going to the grid. Please use a qualified electrician for these two steps. 3. You need to sign a net metering contract with NOTL Hydro. 4. You need to have a bi-directional smart meter installed so that NOTL Hydro can measure both the electricity you use and the electricity you supply the grid. Contact NOTL Hydro for these two steps.

+- What are the costs and benefits of net metering?

Most of the costs are upfront and include the cost of purchasing and installing the renewable generation, connecting the generation to your home or business and having the bi-directional meter installed. Ongoing maintenance costs should be relatively small. The benefits will be the reduced cost of electricity. This will vary by customer depending on your electricity consumption pattern. It is recommended that you have someone independent from a renewable energy vendor provide or check this calculation to ensure this investment is right for you. Also remember that the cost of renewable generation continues to decline so do not feel rushed to make the investment. Call NOTL Hydro with any questions.

+- Can I get paid for the electricity I supply the grid?

No. NOTL Hydro will never make a cash payment and will only provide credits. If you have a credit balance for twelve months it will all expire.

+- What if I generate more electricity than I use over the course of a month?

During the month, NOTL Hydro will net the value of electricity you provide the grid, based on the rates that apply to you, against the cost of electricity you used from the grid. If you have a credit balance at the end of the month that can be carried forward to the next month. However, be aware that all credit balances expire if not used in twelve months.

+- Are there limits as to how much generation I can use?

There are no limits as to how much generation you can use for net metering. However, if you build too much generation you will ending up providing more generation to the grid than you can use. After twelve months, when these credits expire, you will have effectively “donated” electricity to the grid. You want to “right size” the generation to match your electricity consumption. Talk to an experienced electrician or call NOTL Hydro.

+- Will net metering bring my electricity bill to zero?

No. There is a monthly fixed charge that you will always have to pay. This is to pay for the use of the NOTL Hydro grid. For larger business customers there are also some charges that are not offset by net metering. However, all customers will be able to offset the cost of the electricity commodity with net metering. Contact NOTL Hydro for more details.

+- What if I live in an apartment or cannot install any generation at my home or business?

The Government of Ontario is planning to allow what is called “virtual net metering”. This would allow the generation to be physically separate from your home or business and NOTL Hydro would calculate the netting. This may also allow multiple homes and businesses to use net metering with one larger generation. This is also known as “community solar”. This is not yet allowed in Ontario and the regulations around it have not been established. Talk to NOTL Hydro for more information.