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Net metering is a financial agreement in which utility customers who own their renewable energy system to generate electricity and use a single meter to measure the net consumption bought from the utility. The generating systems are generally small (such as solar roof, wind generators or home fuel cells), with a capacity rating of 50 kilowatts or less.

"Net", in this context, is used in the sense of meaning "what remains after deductions".
Your electric meter would run backward when the generator produces more electricity than needed. Customers are only billed for their positive net consumption, which calculated by total consumption minus total generation in a given billing cycle.

Under net metering, a system owner receives retail credit for at least a portion of the electricity they generate. Most electricity meters can accurately record in both directions, allowing a no-cost method of effectively banking excess electricity production for future credit. However, the rules of how long you can keep your banked credits, and how much the credits are worth vary significantly by country and state/province.

Availability by country

In the U.S.A., as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, under Sec. 1251, all public electric utilities are now required to make available upon request net metering to their customers.

In Canada, most provinces provide net metering programs.

Utility   Provinces  
Alberta Energy   Alberta- Net metering available.  
BC Hydro   British Columbia- Net metering is available.
BC Hydro and Net Metering
Hydro One   Ontario- Net metering available.
Hydro One Electricity Updates
Hydro Ottawa   Ontario- Net metering under development.  
Hydro Quebec   Quebec- Net metering available.
Hydro-Québec - Autoproduction
Manitoba Hydro   Manitoba- Net metering is available.
Manitoba Hydro - Connecting Customer Owned Generation
Maritime Electric   Prince Edward Island- Net metering is available.
Maritime Electric - Net Metering Brochure
New Brunswick Power   New Brunswick- Net metering is available.
Net Metering - Renewable Projects
Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro   Newfoundland- Net metering under development.  
Nova Scotia Power   Nova Scotia- Net metering is available.
Nova Scotia Power – Net Metering
Toronto Hydro   Ontario- Net metering available.
Net Metering for Business - Encourages Conservation
Waterloo North   Net metering under development.  
Yukon Energy Corporation   Net metering under development.