Quennie Bronce | September 3, 2018
Odysseus Suarez used to spend a lot on electricity to power his jewelry business, Odysseus Suarez Wedding Rings. A big chunk of his operating expenses is for the electricity at his office building, which also houses his jewelry workshop. When Suarez, however, signed up for the Visayan Electric Company’s Net Metering program in 2016, his spending for electricity significantly lowered.
VECO residential customer Tony Lozada, who signed up for the net metering program in 2015, also shares the same experience of lowered electricity costs.
What is Net Metering?
Net Metering, as provided for in the Renewable Energy Act of 2008, allows customers of distribution utilities (DUs) such as VECO to install a Renewable Energy (RE) facility that does not exceed 100 kilowatts (kW) in capacity so they can generate electricity for their own use.
Electricity generated that is not consumed by the customer is automatically exported to the distribution system of the DU. The DU then gives a peso credit for the excess electricity received equivalent to the DU’s blended generation cost, excluding other generation adjustments. The credits earned by the customer is then deducted from the customer’s electric bill.
“I am a believer in solar energy use since a long time ago. In fact, when this house was built 18 years ago, energy-efficient facilities have already been incorporated. We have a heater and we use solar energy to power it,” Lozada shared. So when a VECO sales representative introduced net metering to Lozada, it did not take him long to sign up for the program.
Suarez, meanwhile, signed up for the program after he was informed about green energy. “I was introduced to green, cost-efficient energy. Since it was the new thing at that time and maintaining a jewelry workshop entails a big electricity, I was willing to give it a try.”
Under the net metering program, the DU customer must install a renewable energy facility before signing up for the program. Such RE facilities, according to Lozada and Suarez, however, require a considerable amount of investment.
“Since I really wanted to have a solar facility, I gave up an unused service car to buy a solar facility. Turns out, it was a good decision because my solar facility has lowered our electric bills by 30 to 40 percent,” Lozada, whose solar facility has a 1.5 kW capacity, shared.
Net metering is perfect for businesses like mine that have a high power requirement during day time. Because of the program, we use renewable energy, save on our electricity costs and I get to give back whatever savings to my employees.
Suarez, who installed a solar facility with a 30kW capacity for his building, also invested a considerable amount for it but said that it was worth it. “Net metering is perfect for businesses like mine that have a high power requirement during the daytime. Because of the program, we use renewable energy, save on our electricity costs and I get to give back whatever savings to my employees,” he said, adding that he makes his employees work comfortably by providing air-conditioning in the workshop. “We generate the power that we use so we can confidently make use of air-con and other electrical equipment.”
In the Lozada household, all activities that require heavy use of electricity, such as using the washing machine, ironing and the storing of water through a water pump, is done during the daytime when power is generated from the house’s solar facility.
“I also invested in energy-efficient appliances so that when the sun is out and I have to get power from VECO, I still do not spend a lot for electricity,” Lozada added.
Net metering is somewhat technical, Suarez and Lozada both agree, but, they are also one in saying that once a customer understands what it is all about, they will see the benefits that it can bring.
Suarez said that customers who plan to sign up for the net metering program must first understand the set-up. “Like you have to know how much power do you require, so you can determine the capacity of the solar facility that you need. You also have to know that net metering is on grid, which means you cannot store power. Once the sun is out, you have to use power from VECO. Plus, net metering will benefit those who have high power needs in the morning because, again, it is on grid,” he said.
Lozada, for his part, said he initially had doubts and a lot of questions about the program. “I had my doubts in the beginning. I had questions about how will I know the amount of solar energy my solar panels have generated, how much of the generated power have I used and how much of it is exported to VECO. I kept an open mind, though, and when the VECO staff explained everything to me, I got it,” Lozada said.
VECO is very easy to deal with and the detailed reports that it provides makes it easy for the customer to track solar yield, consumed and exported. This service takes away a lot of doubts on the program. A happy net metering customer here.
He added that he got lucky with his supplier for his solar facility because it provides a mobile app that lets him monitor the solar power generated. The detailed reports that VECO provides on solar power yield, energy consumed and energy exported to the VECO system, is also a big help.
“VECO is very easy to deal with and the detailed reports that it provides makes it easy for the customer to track solar yield, consumed and exported. This service takes away a lot of doubts on the program. A happy net metering customer here,” Lozada said.