Washington State Net Metering Guide

Washington state net metering allows the compensation of excess solar energy produced in the form of an "energy credit" worth equal to the current market rate of a kilowatt-hour.
bidirectional electric utility meter

Table of Contents

What is WA Net Energy Metering?

Washington state net metering allows the compensation of excess solar energy produced in the form of an “energy credit” worth equal to the current market rate of a kilowatt-hour.

Prior to net metering incentive program policies, Washington solar energy system owners had two options for what to do with the excess energy that their systems generated: 

  1. they could get the system certified as a qualified facility and sell the energy at their utility company’s avoided-cost rate, or
  2. they could install battery systems to store the excess energy on-site for later use. 

Net metering in Washington state presents an excellent incentive that makes solar energy systems even more worth it in Washington, and it supports the concept of distributed generation of renewable energy.

oregon bidirectional electric utility meter on brick wall

Washington state net metering allows grid-tied solar energy system owners (customer-generators) to essentially sell their excess energy back to the utility grid in exchange for credits on their utility account equal to the value of the excess energy at the utility’s retail rate.

Monthly minimum fees and service fees still apply since credits are given based on kilowatt-hour usage only, and credits roll over month to month to the next bill period but expire each year at the end of March.

This is so customer-generators cannot earn credits for more energy than they use in a year – but the dreary Washington winters make it relatively easy to use up all your credits from the previous summer before they expire.

A bidirectional meter will be installed on the property, which will measure how much grid electricity the customer uses and how much solar energy they contribute to the grid, and then they will only be charged for the net amount or the difference between the two numbers. Credits will be accumulated when the amount of energy contributed to the grid exceeds the amount of grid energy used. If more grid energy is used, the value of the contributed energy will be deducted, lowering the bill.

a diagram of net energy metering in oregon and washington state

This WA solar incentive is particularly helpful for Washington solar customers, as you can amass lots of credit during the summer months of long sunny days when solar production is high and the energy consumption is low, and then use those credits during the dark, rainy winter months when your solar production is drastically reduced and your energy consumption is higher.

Eligibility and Availability

All customer classes are eligible and all utility companies in Washington are required to offer net metering for renewable energy systems up to 100 kW that generate power from solar energy or other renewable sources.

Washington state net metering will be available on a first-come, first-served basis until the cumulative generation from net-metered systems reaches 4% of the electric utilities’ peak demand levels in the year 1996. This level has been adjusted several times and new net metering customers are still being accepted, so don’t let that discourage you from going solar.

Equipment and Interconnection

The only extra piece of equipment required for net metering is a bidirectional electricity meter, which is provided by the utility company. The net excess generation will be credited to the customer’s next bill at the utility company’s retail rate. 

Net metered systems must include all necessary safety equipment to meet codes established by the:

There is an interconnection process involving applications and inspections required to get approved for a net-metered connection with your utility. At Precision Solar, we are very familiar with this process and will help you design a system that is compliant and walk you through the entire process.

Even if you take part in Washington’s Renewable Energy Production Incentives, that will not impact the savings that you can achieve through net metering. But, you may be required to have separate meters, which can lead to some additional expenses when setting up the system.

There are several other Washington state solar incentives that you can take advantage of, in addition to net metering:

  • 30% Federal Investment Tax Credit for Solar
  • Washington Solar Sales Tax Exemption
  • United States Department of Agriculture Rural Energy for American Power Program
  • Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System

Considering Solar for Your Home or Business?

At Precision Solar, our goal is to make solar energy affordable and accessible to all homeowners and business owners in Washington state. We have extensive familiarity with all the applicable solar incentives that can help reduce the upfront cost of solar energy for you. 

Our team of experts is here to answer any questions about Washington state net metering program or any others you may have. Contact us today to get started with a free consultation and project quote!

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