Solar and Net Metering
Many customers choose to install their own electrical generating array of rooftop solar panels. Rooftop solar panels alone generally will not meet your electricity needs throughout the year here in the Puget Sound region so you will still need to be connected to Tacoma Power through a “net metering” connection. Net metering involves the interconnection of electricity generating devices (i.e., solar panels) to your Power utility’s electric grid. Through the installation of an Advanced Meter that separately records electricity delivered from electricity consumed, net metered customers can purchase electricity from Tacoma Power when needed and send electricity generated from their rooftop solar panels back onto the electric grid when they don’t have need for it.
When purchasing electricity from your Power utility your net meter spins forward. When delivering electricity from your rooftop solar panels back out onto the grid, your net meter spins backward. Rooftop solar customers are credited or charged for the “net” electricity on their next Power utility bill.
For example, if a customer with rooftop solar panels generates 150 kWh in July, and also uses 600 kWh in their home that month, the net recorded on their utility meter is 450 kWh. The customer pays for 450 kWh on their utility bill. By displacing some of their electrical use with the electricity produced by their rooftop solar, the customer receives the current retail rate for the electricity produced by their rooftop solar panels. Please note, that it is important that you “right size” your rooftop solar panels to match your annual power consumption and not oversize. If oversized, you may pay more for your rooftop solar than is necessary. If you are producing more than you use, as directed by RCW 80.60.030, on March 31 of each calendar year, any unused credits for electricity (kilowatt-hours or kWh) accumulated during the previous year are granted back to your Power utility without compensation.
To start net metering, complete the following:
- Apply for an electrical permit
- After obtaining your electrical permit, submit your Net Meter application and the supporting documents.
If you have questions, please email us or call 253-502-8363.
You can click here to view a list of rooftop solar installers who work within the utility’s service area. The list is not an endorsement or guarantee by Tacoma Power, so it’s still a good idea to request references, and check online reviews and comments.
Customer generation systems require a production meter. Installation requirements for production meters can be found here.
Not sure solar is right for you?
The Wattplan solar estimator is an independent third party tool designed by Clean Power Research to help customers make informed decisions about investing in solar. National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) PVWatts Calculator is another tool that can estimate how much electricity you will generate and how that translates into bill savings. We also encourage you to read through our frequently asked questions to learn more.
- State Renewable Energy System Incentive Program
From 2005 until 2017, Washington State offered incentives for renewable energy generated from registered renewable energy systems under the Renewable Energy Cost Recovery Incentive Program (RECRIP.) In 2017, the legislature lowered incentive rates for renewable energy production in exchange for extending the program beyond 2020 under the Renewable Energy System Incentive Program (RESIP.) Homeowners with solar electric systems registered with the WSU Energy Program prior to February 2019 will continue to receive incentives based on the program in which they are registered. Click here for more information on the Renewable Energy System Incentive Program.
Homeowners who did not have or did not register their systems with the WSU Energy Program prior to February 2019 are not eligible for state production incentives. However, customers who purchased their solar system after July 1, 2019 are eligible for a tax exemption on all sales tax paid on the purchase and installation of their solar system. They are also eligible for the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) in effect until 2021. Click here to learn more about the ITC.