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The Generation kWh Numbers Don't Make Sense

Understanding kWh with Residential Solar

Smart MeterFollowing the installation of a home solar system, the kilowatt hour (kWh) numbers reported on your monthly bill can take on new meaning. Additionally, you’ll likely also get access to new data sources reporting kWh, adding yet another layer of complexity to understanding your home’s energy usage. With that in mind, we’ve summarized a few key points for understanding these various kWh numbers in the article below.

Key Point # 1: Retail energy providers, including Champion, only receive information about power that interacts with the grid, your consumption (power that flows from the grid to your home) and your surplus generation (power that flows from your home to the grid).

Power originating from and being sent to the grid are the only two kWh figures reflected on your monthly bill. These kWh numbers are different from the total generation kWh you will likely see on a website or app provided by your solar panel provider. The difference here being that retail energy providers can’t know what was produced by your panels but consumed by your home – only your solar panel provider can see this figure.

In fact, you may be surprised to learn that energy retailers, including Champion, do not directly operate or monitor the meter at your house. Access to the information is provided by a local transmission & distribution utility (TDU), such as CenterPoint Energy in Houston and Oncor Electric Delivery in Dallas. More information on this topic can be found here.

Key Point # 2: Nearly all residential customers need more power than their panels produce.

Residential SolarSolar panels without battery storage are only able to reduce your home’s daytime energy consumption. When the sun is not shining, such as during cloudy weather or at nighttime, your home will need to pull power from the grid just as it did prior to installing solar panels.

Key Point #3: A solar buyback plan – which allows you to sell surplus energy back to the grid – can help generate credit toward your monthly bill.

When power is generated by your solar panels it will first go towards powering your home. The kWh which are consumed by your home never interact with the grid, which means they don’t show up on your home’s on-site meter and therefore don’t appear on your bill. Your monthly bill is lowered when your solar panels produce power, resulting in using less electricity from the grid that you pay a retail energy rate per kWh.

Surplus generation is tracked by the meter installed at your home and flows into systems like Smart Meter Texas (SMT). However, the meter does not measure energy that was produced and subsequently consumed by your home. The only power tracked by your meter is the electricity that interacted with the grid, either because it originated there or because it was sent to it.

Solar buyback plans provide a construct for receiving payment for this surplus generation sent to the grid. Learn more about Champion Energy’s no-hassle solar buyback here.

Some competitor’s solar buyback plans charge you a monthly fee (i.e. $4.95 to $24.95 per month), or do not recognize credits for surplus generation that exceeds your monthly consumption. Read more about the different types of solar buyback plans here.

Meter Graph Chart
Example of Home Energy Usage