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Solar Energy Apartments in California Utilize Virtual Net Metering Technology

By now, we are all familiar with the fact that homeowners have the incredible option of installing PV panels on their roofs, as a way to reap the benefits of solar energy. But what about those of us who are residing in an apartment complex? In the past, apartment building owners could install a PV system on their roof to offset the electricity load used by tenants both in common areas and in their own spaces.  However, if the owner did want to allow an offset for individual tenants in a multi-family building, this would require separate PV systems and inverters for each apartment. Not only was this extremely costly, but it was complicated as well.

Solar Energy Apartments in California Utilize Virtual Net Metering Technology - Longhorn Solar

Virtual Net Metering (VNM) makes this process much easier by allowing energy to be distributed from a single PV system to a number of meters without having to be connected to each tenant’s meter physically. While VNM was originally available only for low-income multi-family properties in the state of California, the California Public Utilities Commission approved the use of VNM in all multi-family, multi-metered buildings back in 2011.

The first company that made the jump with this limitless offer was San Diego based Home Energy Systems. Work quickly began on designing and installing a 338-kW PV system on Solterra, the first MASH (Multi-family Affordable Solar Housing) multi-family apartment in the state that utilized VNM and San Diego’s first net-zero luxury apartment. H.G. Fenton Company spearheaded the creation of this “EcoLuxury” apartment and it later opened in May.

With the use of VNM, Home Energy System was able to install 1,380 solar modules on the apartment building’s four roofs. Overall, the system generates 100 perfect of electricity for 114 units and common areas in the apartment complex. As the system generates roughly 500,000 kWh of electricity each month, every building tenant gets an allowance of 250 to 350 kWh a month, depending on the size of their unit. Additionally, about 20 percent of that generated electricity is allotted for use in common areas such as hallway lights, gym equipment and appliance sin the clubhouse.

Tenants at Solterra are gaining valuable education about solar energy by simply living in this “ExoLuxury” apartment complex. Seeing as Solterra is also the first complex in the U.S. that allows its tenants to check how much energy they have used via their smartphones. This way, they will be able to learn how energy is used and what they can do to conserve it. Having this opportunity while still residing in an apartment complex allows tenants to see how beneficial solar energy can be when it comes time for them to buy a home of their own.

(Source: Renewable Energy World)