Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New Net Meters for First Energy Customers

Customer-generator n. Utility jargon for your neighbors with solar on the roof

Seen the new net meters? New and old net metering customers in First Energy's MonPower and Potomac Edison service areas of West Virginia and Maryland are being fitted with improved metering equipment to help track customer generated power as it is pushed back onto the grid.

New net meter for a First Energy customer (note, the code is 01 and the reading is 00000 kWh). Being brand new it has not had time to record any energy, but the small arrow below the 01 points to the right indicating that energy is moving from the utility grid to the home.

The new meters began to appear in July. I've been asked by several customers about the different flashing codes on the new meters. The First Energy folks have been getting a lot of calls too. To help their customers get a handle on reading the new net meter they produced a nice pdf which you can view here. The pdf has illustrations and explanations for what the meter is measuring and reporting.

I checked my new net meter a couple of days after it was installed this past summer. It flashed through three separate screens. Each screen references a code and displays a reading (in kWh). Here's what the meter read and what it means:

Code Reading Meaning
01 4 Net kWh that I owe money for (14-10 = 4 kWh)
04 14 Total kWh that my home has pulled in from the utility grid (14 kWh)
40 10 Total kWh that my solar pushed back onto the utility grid (10 kWh)

Another cool aspect to these meters is the dial emulator which is really an arrow that displays at the bottom of each meter screen demonstrating the direction that power is presently traveling. As you look at your net meter the arrow will point to the right if you are pulling in power from the utility grid. It will point to the left if you are pushing power back. The arrow will display more or less quickly depending on the amount of power that is running through the meter. The old dial-style mechanical meters would spin to the right or left, faster or slower, in a similar fashion.