The SOMAH Program requires that tenants receive at least 51% of the solar credits from each SOMAH project. VNEM will be used to apply solar credits directly to your utility bill. VNEM is a billing process that allows a single solar panel system to divide bill credits among multiple tenant units and common areas.

VNEM keeps track of

  1. The electricity created by the solar panels on your property
  2. The electricity sent to the electric grid, as measured by the solar meter and recorded by your utility company
  3. The electricity your household uses as measured by your electric meter
  4. The amount of solar credits allocated to your household to lower your monthly bill

It is important to understand how having solar on your property will affect your utility bill. There will be changes to both the way your utility bill looks and how it is calculated.

PG&E brochure: Understanding the Virtual Net Energy Metering Program

what is virtual net energy metering (VNEM)

Depending on your utility company, different rate structures may be available. For multifamily residential customers, example rates may include tiered and time of use (TOU).


Understanding a tiered rate utility bill


Tiered rate – With a tiered rate, your per kilowatt-hour (kWh) rate goes up as you use the amount allowed in each tier or level within a billing period. If you go over the allowed amount in that level, your rate goes up another level. Usually there are two to four different levels. Your rate resets to the base level at the next billing period.

Understanding a time of use (TOU) utility bill

Time-of-use (TOU) rate – With a TOU rate, your electricity rate changes depending on the time of day. Using electricity during super off-peak times is less expensive than using it during on-peak times.

Other charges may be included on your utility bill beyond those kWh charges for your applicable rate structure, including nonbypassable charges.

energy meter and billing

Once solar panels are installed and turned on:

  • Tenants within the PG&E, SCE, PacifiCorp and Liberty Utilities territories will remain on their existing rate
  • Tenants in the SDG&E territory will be switched to an applicable TOU rate
  • Tenants may opt out of TOU to a tiered plan
  • Common areas will be required to switch to a TOU rate

Man reading energy bill savings

Maximize the benefits of being on a TOU rate by:

  • Changing when you use energy
    • During peak times, avoid using larger appliances and turn down heating and air conditioning
    • During off-peak times, wash clothes and use dishwashers
  • Purchasing energy-efficient lightbulbs and appliances to reduce your overall usage
  • Enrolling in energy savings programs, such as your utility’s free Energy Savings Assistance Program (ESAP) or California's Low-Income Weatherization Program (LIWP)

Determining which rate is best depends on how much and when electricity is consumed by reviewing historical data. Visit your utility's website for details on which rates are available to you.

Contact your utility for specifics on your rate structure.

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