May 21st, 2021
Earn more from solar with real-time energy pricing
Updated: July 29, 2022
The important stuff:
- You get solar buyback with most of our plans, with no extra cost.
- When your solar panels produce more energy than you need, you get credits when you send excess energy to the grid.
- Solar credits have limitless rollover, no cap, and no expiration date
How do solar credits work?
Solar buyback gives you the opportunity to export any excess electricity generated by your solar panels to the energy grid in exchange for solar credits. These are based on the wholesale rate for every kilowatt exported to the grid, measured every 15 minutes. Any energy that your home doesn’t use from the solar panels is sent back to the grid where we will buy it back at the wholesale rate.
We use the wholesale rate to calculate solar credits that are provided in real time by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Wholesale prices are determined every 15 minutes — the higher the demand for energy, the higher the price climbs. Based on last year’s (2021) monthly settlement point, buyback prices ranged between 1.6¢ - 5.2¢/kWh depending on the time of year and utility company. (This range excludes February 2021’s wholesale price of $1.50/kWh, an example of how prices soared due to demand for energy during the winter freeze. Due to the storm, the state put a cap on wholesale rates.)
While rare (but possible!), you could receive up to $5/kWh if the grid is experiencing an extreme demand for energy. When there’s enough energy to power your home, the excess energy generated will get sent back to the grid at the end of each 15-minute interval — unless you have a battery, which we highly recommend. During peak hours of 6 a.m. - 10 p.m., or during a massive blackout event, energy costs spike. Your solar excess is an important contribution to the electric grid. With wholesale rates, you are compensated in real-time for what it’s worth.
How can I tell how many credits I have?
As long as your panels are sending energy to the grid, you’ll get credit towards your statement. Once you start accumulating credits, you’ll see them applied automatically on your energy statement. Any remaining credits can be used towards your future energy use.
Most of our customers use their credits towards their outstanding statement or future energy use depending on their plan. If you happen to get more credits than you’re using for electricity, we’ll send you a check. Just ask!
Do credits expire?
No, your credits never expire. If you switch away, we’ll pay out your credit amount.
How often do I get credits?
You accumulate credits daily, depending on how much excess solar electricity your panels have produced.
You can track your all things solar through Smart Meter Texas, a free and official website with detailed information about your energy usage.
Is the rate I’m buying energy from the grid the same rate as the rate I sell my surplus solar back to the grid?
Not quite. When you buy energy from the grid, you are also paying additional fees for transmission, subscription and taxes. Transmission fees are charged to have electricity delivered to your service address. When you sell back, you aren’t responsible for those fees.
But, the rate you sell back to the grid is the wholesale market rate, averaged at 15-minute intervals by your smart meter. The real-time price can be found here. Heads up: these prices are for MWh. You can divide by a thousand to get the kWh amount.
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