Utility Rate-Specific Glossary
ATTRIBUTE • an ETB feature used to differentiate between billing combinations of the same rate schedule. Attributes can be selected in the Energy Use Profile for a chosen rate schedule (if they apply).
BILLED DEMAND • the amount of demand, measured in kilowatts, that the utility bills a customer in each billing period. The billed demand can differ from a customer’s “measured demand” if there are ratchets or demand configurations that apply.
CAPACITY FACTOR • the ratio of the average load on (or power output of) an electricity generating unit or system to the unit’s capacity rating over a specified period.
CAPACITY RESERVATION LEVEL (California only) • a specified portion of the customer’s load (in kilowatts) shielded from Critical Peak Pricing rates.
CARE DISCOUNT • a low-income billing program available in certain California utility territories. Customers enrolled in CARE (formally known as California Alternative Rates for Energy) can receive a 30-35 percent discount on their electric and natural gas bills.
CHARGE TYPE • an ETB definition describing how a customer’s energy usage is applied to certain billing components. Charge types can vary in complexity and include types like flat rate, tiered, and time-of-use.
COINCIDENT DEMAND • the simultaneous demands of a group of customers on a system at the time of the system’s peak demand. A customer’s demand during the system’s peak period becomes that customer’s coincident demand and is billed separately from their measured demand.
COMMUNITY CHOICE AGGREGATION (CCA) • locally owned entities that procure energy on behalf of their members, often at lower rates or from cleaner sources. CCA members still receive transmission and distribution services from their primary utility provider and thus pay their CCA and utility separately.
COOPERATIVE (COOP) • a private, non-profit company that delivers electricity to its members who also get to participate in the coop’s decision making. Coops often return revenue back to their members in the form of capital credits.
CRITICAL PEAK PRICING (CPP) • a specific type of rate tariff whereby a customer pays a markedly higher rate for electric usage during a few peak-load or emergency periods — CPP events — as designated by the utility. In exchange, the customer receives a discount on demand and energy charges during the summer months.
CUSTOMER CHARGES • a charge type that is billed as a fixed amount per month (or per day). Customer charges are non-volumetric and often vary based on a customer’s rate schedule. The customer charge is usually included in the minimum monthly bill that a customer must pay for their service regardless of their energy consumption.
DEFAULT RATE • the standard rate schedule that customers are automatically placed on by a utility for electric service. Different default rates can exist for different classes of customers (e.g., residential, commercial, industrial) and these rates often require energy usage that does not exceed specified levels. Default rate information can often be found in the “Applicability” or “Availability” sections of a rate schedule tariff.
DEMAND • the rate at which electric energy is used at a given instant or averaged over a designated time interval such as 15, 30, or 60 minutes. It is often expressed in kilowatts (kW).
DEMAND RESPONSE • the use of voluntary load reductions during peak hours. Utilities use demand response programs to incentivize customers to shift their electricity demand to hours when energy is more plentiful or when the demand is lower.
ENERGY DEREGULATION • introduces competitive pricing in certain states by allowing utility customers to shop for retail energy providers that purchase energy at wholesale rates and offer discounted prices for customers. Customers are still obligated to pay their primary utility as well as their retail energy provider because the primary utility still owns all the transmission and distribution lines used to deliver the electricity to the customer.
DISTRIBUTION CHARGES • charges billed to customers for the delivery of energy from a transmission system to the site of consumption (i.e., a home or business). Distribution charges are billed either per kilowatt-hour (kWh) or per kilowatt (kW).
DISTRIBUTED ENERGY RESOURCES (DER) • a variety of small power-generating technologies that can be combined with energy management and storage systems to improve the operation of the electricity delivery system.
DISTRIBUTED GENERATION • a popular term for localized or on-site power generation. Normally, distributed generation is synonymous with energy systems located on the customer side of the meter.
EFFECTIVE DATE • the date that a particular rate schedule or tariff went into effect.
ENERGY • the quantity of kilowatt-hours (kWh) supplied or used. It is the product of power in watts and the time during which the power was used.
ENERGY CHARGES • volumetric charges multiplied by a consumer’s monthly energy usage.
ENERGY USE PROFILE • an ETB feature where you can select a utility and rate, input the annual energy usage, upload interval data, and configure the net metering or billing options.
EVENT DAY • utility-defined days where customers enrolled in a Critical Peak Pricing program are expected to minimize or cease energy consumption during specified hours. Energy consumption that occurs on these days and during these hours is charged at a high penalty rate.
EXPORTS • a measure of the solar-generated energy sent back to the grid. Exports can be valued at the same rate as retail energy (net metering) or at a near-retail or wholesale rate as specified by the utility.
FULL CREDIT • the full payback amount for exported energy.
GENERATION CHARGE • a type of supply-related charge billed to customers to recover the costs associated with the purchase or production of energy.
IMPORTS • a measure of the energy consumed and billed each month. In net metering scenarios, imports can be offset by exports.
INTERCONNECTION • the connection of a renewable energy system to the power grid.
INTERVAL • an average of the flow of energy in 15-, 30-, or 60-minute periods used to determine the demand.
INTERVAL DATA • electricity usage data recorded by an interval meter in 15-, 30-, or 60-minute periods. Interval data provides a more detailed view into a consumer’s energy usage than bills.
INVESTOR-OWNED UTILITY (IOU) • large utilities owned by shareholders that operate for profit.
KILOWATT (kW) • a standard unit of electrical power equal to either 1000 watts, or energy consumption at a rate of 1000 joules per second.
KILOWATT-HOUR (kWh) • the units in which electric meters measure usage. One kWh equals 1000 watts of electricity supplied for one hour.
LINE ITEM • an individual billing component listed on a customer’s bill.
LOAD • the demand on an energy-producing system often expressed in terms of amperes or watts.
LOAD FACTOR • a ratio of a customer’s highest actual demand in a billing period to the theoretical maximum demand they could have used during that period. It is calculated by dividing the average demand by the maximum demand for a specific period.
LOAD PROFILE • ETB presets based on data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory that model the typical energy consumption patterns of various customer types.
LINE LOSSES • a measure of energy lost as heat during the process of transmission and distribution.
MASTER RATE SCHEDULE (MRS) • an umbrella rate schedule under which different combinations of attributes can be created. A MRS is required for the creation of a global rate.
MAX DEMAND • the highest kW demand that occurs during specific hours within a billing period.
MEASURED DEMAND • the amount of demand or highest kW interval that a customer’s meter recorded during a specified billing period. Measured demand can sometimes differ from “billed demand”, which is the amount of demand the utility billed during a billing period if the rate schedule has a demand ratchet.
MINIMUM CHARGE • the minimum amount that a customer must pay according to the rate schedule they are placed on.
MODIFIER • indicates whether an ETB line item is considered an import, export, non-bypassable charge, or supply. This feature is utilized when setting the metering details to net billing and when using the Retail Supply Details option in the Energy Use Profile.
MUNICIPALITY • a utility that is owned at the local level by a city or county. Municipalities are responsible for the transmission and distribution of electricity, and they operate on a non-profit basis.
NET BILLING • an alternative metering configuration to net metering where exported energy is valued at a specific rate that is different from the retail rate for imported energy.
NET METER • an electricity meter that can track how much electricity your solar system puts into the power grid and how much electricity your home pulls out of the grid.
NON-BYPASSABLE CHARGES (California only) • energy charges that cannot be offset by exported energy. Consumers will always be billed for the full value of these charges.
NON-COINCIDENT (NC) DEMAND • the max measured demand in a billing period.
OFF-PEAK • a designated time-of-use period with hours that are often associated with lower energy consumption (e.g., 9 p.m.- 9 a.m.). Typically, costs are measurably lower during these hours.
ON-PEAK • a designated time-of-use period with hours that are often associated with higher energy consumption (e.g., 4-9 p.m.). Typically, costs are measurably higher during these hours.
PEAK DEMAND • the maximum energy demand or load in a specified time period.
PHOTOVOLTAIC (PV) • the process of converting light into direct current electricity.
PENNSYLVANIA, NEW JERSEY, AND MARYLAND INTERCONNECTION (PJM) • the regional transmission organization (RTO) that coordinates and controls the electric grid across a dozen Eastern states including Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina and Ohio to name a few.
POWER COST ADJUSTMENT (PCA) • an adjustment billed per kWh that recovers the cost associated with the purchase of fuel for the generation of energy. The PCA typically updates monthly and may be a charge or a credit. Some utilities refer to the PCA as the Fuel Cost Adjustment (FCA).
POWER FACTOR • a ratio of actual power being used in a circuit, expressed in watts or kilowatts, to the power that is being drawn from a power source, expressed in volt-amperes or kilovolt-amperes.
POWER PURCHASE AGREEMENT (PPA) • a contract between a power producer and a power consumer that states the consumer will purchase a certain amount of power from the producer.
PROPOSAL • the final ETB document that incorporates the solar design details, before & after PV and/or ESS bill calculations, project costs, and rate of return.
PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION (PUC) • a governing body that regulates a state’s electric, gas, telecommunications, and water utilities. The PUC is responsible for approving any proposed tariff changes submitted by a utility.
RATCHET (DEMAND) • a feature of some utility rate designs to calculate a customer’s billed demand based on a given percentage of their peak use over a specified period of time. For example, a customer with an 80% ratchet on their trailing twelve-month peak demand will be billed 80% of their peak demand in those twelve months if it is greater than the measured demand for the current month.
RATE CODE • a short-hand name often found on customer bills to identify their rate schedule.
REAL TIME PRICING (RTP) • a charge type where the supply rate matches the hourly real-time market value of wholesale energy.
RENEWABLE ENERGY CREDIT (REC) • tradable, non-tangible energy commodities that represent proof that one megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity was generated from an eligible renewable energy resource. Solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs) are RECs that are specifically generated by solar energy. In the “Incentives” tab of our “Company Settings,” a user can specify the default REC price to be used in each state.
RETAIL ENERGY SUPPLIER (RES) • a business entity that sells power to consumers, often at a discounted price compared to electric utilities. RES operate in deregulated energy markets, and they are also referred to as third-party supplier (TPS) or retail energy provider (REP).
RIDERS • also known as adjustments, are additional line items billed to customers to fund various programs or to recover costs associated with natural disasters. Some riders are voluntary like optional time-of-use period riders, while other riders are involuntary and apply to all customers on a particular rate schedule. ETB rates include all mandatory riders.
SERVICE VOLTAGE • the voltage at the point of connection between the transmission & distribution utility and a customer’s electric meter. Rate schedules often provide discounts based upon the customer’s voltage level. For example, a primary voltage customer may receive lower rates than a secondary voltage customer.
SPECIAL PROGRAMS • an ETB feature that allows for the inclusion of various programs like critical peak pricing, peak-day pricing, or special energy credits into a rate schedule.
TARIFF • the official terms and conditions statement that utilities publish that contains information on how a customer is billed.
TIME-OF-USE (TOU) • a billing system employed by utilities that charges specific rates for kWh, or kW, consumed during defined time periods. The most common names for TOU periods are on-peak, mid-peak, and off-peak. TOU rates provide different price signals that can vary seasonally, by day and by hour. Seasonal and time-of-day price differentials encourage customers to shift their load to off-peak periods.
TRANSMISSION CHARGES • charges billed to customers for the transfer of energy from a generation source across transmission lines to a transmission substation. Transmission charges are billed either per kilowatt-hour (kWh) or per kilowatt (kW).
TRUE-UP DATE • the date when an energy exporter receives compensation from the utility for any outstanding energy credits or excess exported energy. These dates occur monthly (per billing period) or annually and are defined by a utility’s net metering or net billing tariff.
UPDATE FREQUENCY • the regular interval of time between updates for a utility. Common frequencies include monthly, quarterly, semi-annually and annually.
UTILITY RESOURCES • an Energy Use Profile feature that includes links to various documents or website articles pertinent to the utility and rates that were selected.
WHOLESALE ENERGY RATE • the rate (expressed in $/kWh) at which excess over-production over the course of a 1-year (or monthly) net metering cycle is valued.