How to Read Your Residential Solar Xcel Bill

Written By Ben Valley

On July 11, 2019

At a Glance:

IPS Lead Solar Consultant Ben Valley breaks down some of the most common questions around how to read and interpret what's on your residential solar Xcel bill.

If you have a residential solar electric system on your roof with Xcel as your utility, you’ve likely had questions. The most common are:

  1. How does Xcel measure the energy you use and produce?
  2. How do I know how much energy Xcel is charging me for when my solar isn’t producing?
  3. How do I know how much energy my system delivered?

Because we help clients with this regularly, I want to preemptively share the FAQs to help with any current or future questions. Of course, we’re always here to help if you have additional questions.

Energy Flow and Billing Summary:

  1. How does Xcel measure the energy you use and produce?

The amount of solar your system produces and uses will naturally vary throughout the year. For example, you may produce more energy than you use during the summer months, whereas during the winter months the demand for ongoing heat may mean you may use more energy than you produce.

  • Xcel uses net and production meters to keep track of this seasonal ebb and flow. The net meter moves forward when electricity flows from the Xcel grid into your home, and backward when you’re producing an abundance of energy that flows from your solar electric system onto Xcel’s grid. Each month Xcel reads the energy flow measures and distinguishes kilowatt-hours (kWh) being taken from the grid (used) and pushing out to the grid (produced). If you produce more electricity than you use, you’re considered a “net producer,” and you won’t have a bill for any kWh during that billing cycle. Any excess kWh are stored in your Solar Bank for future use. (Refer to Solar Bank information at the end of this post.)
  • If you use more than you produce, your bill will show the difference (net kWh). The production meter is a standard meter that’s set up for payment of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) rather than for billing. It’s used to calculate your monthly REC payments.

2. How do I know how much energy Xcel is charging me for when the solar isn’t producing?
3. How do I know how much energy my system delivered?

Your bill has four main categories that demonstrate the energy flow described above:

Total (kWh) Delivered by Xcel: This line shows the total energy you used from Xcel. It’s calculated by taking the amount of energy you used, and subtracting any excess energy you produced from your previous bill (your excess generation). This one can be tricky, so I’ll provide some more details at the end of this article.**

Total (kWh) Delivered by Customer: This line shows the amount of electricity your system delivered to the grid. Energy delivered to the grid is solar energy going to the grid after first going directly to the loads in the building.

Net (kWh) Delivered by Xcel: This line represents the actual kilowatt-hours that you are buying from Xcel after calculating what you’ve produced vs. what you’ve used.

Net (kWh) Generated by customer: This line represents the volume of kWh you have built up if you have not consumed all of these credits already. If your system was designed as a Solar Bank, meaning it will offset 100% or more of your electricity use over the course of the year, you may have these built up in the summer since solar systems tend to produce more in the summer than the winter.

**Total Delivered by Xcel—Detailed Explanation:

The first line in Diagram One is the most important because it explains that the “Total Delivered by Xcel” a.k.a. the volume of kWhs delivered after counting the solar kWh production excess from the month before—if there is any excess.

This is why it looks like only X% of what you’re getting credit for.

The line: “total delivered by the customer,” is what most frequently confuses people. And it is confusing! This metric makes it sounds like it’s counting all of the energy from your system, but it’s not. Rather, this metric is just the energy that made it to the grid. In other words, the “Total Delivered by Xcel” shows the amount of energy delivered to the grid after the solar delivered X% of the kWh directly to the loads in the building.

Note: Here is a section of Xcel’s updated “How to read Xcel Bill” Document

Xcel Solar Energy Bill Breakout
ground-mounted solar system
Ben Valley

About the Author

Ben Valley is the Sales Manager at IPS with over seven years of experience. After growing up on a farm, he worked 15 years in construction and farmhand labor. He is active in his community as a volunteer fundraiser for Environmental Policy and men’s therapy and development. In his free time, Ben loves trail running, rock climbing, reading, audiobooks, and communication training. Most weekends he will be found in his studio working on glass or in his metal shop on sculptures. Ben believes everyone should read at least one book a week.

Read More from the IPS Blog

IPS Student Researchers Featured in CRES Webinar for C-PACE Project

Four student researchers from CU Boulder partnering with IPS on their graduate capstone program will be featured in an upcoming Colorado Renewable Energy Society (CRES) webinar focused on local graduate research into the energy transition.

Components of Your Solar Power System

Solar power systems are more than just the panels you see on roofs or in ground-mounted arrays. Additional electronic devices such as string inverters and power optimizers are necessary to generate and consume solar energy. Learn more about the different components of your solar power system.

Cleaning Your Solar Panels

Thinking about cleaning your solar panels and getting them looking like new? Keeping your system clean can help maintain peak energy production. Here are some tips from SunPower’s website on how you can do this as safely as possible if you wish to do this yourself.

The Basics of Battery Storage Terminology

Whether you’re brand new to the topic of battery backups or are well along in your research, here are the basics of battery storage terminology and metrics to keep in mind as you explore solutions for your home or business.

Getting to know the E+ Renewable Energy Program for Nonprofits and Civic Facilities

NorthWestern Energy’s E+ Renewable Energy Program provides funding for the installation of renewable energy systems on nonprofit or government/public buildings with the aim of increasing the visibility of such technologies to a broader audience.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *