Distributed Generation – What Is It?

Distributed generation refers to any electric power supply that is connected to the distribution grid but doesn’t come directly from the grid. Some examples of distributed generation are solar panels on your home, windmills, battery backups, or on-site backup generators. These are all ways you can supplement your energy usage or have backup power. Some of the electricity you generate can even be put back onto the electric grid if you use less energy than you generate.

Are you considering installing a secondary system to put excess electricity back onto the Co-op’s distribution system? If so, you are required to submit a Small Generation Interconnection Request in order to begin the process of setting up your net metering account.

Net Metering

Solar panels

Net-metering is a special installation that allows any surplus energy generated by the member’s system to go back on the utility electric system and allows the member to receive “credit” for the electricity put back on the system, offsetting consumed energy. The member’s meter measures the electricity the member uses from the utility system, and the electricity the member’s system puts back.

Net metering allows homeowners to receive the full value for the electricity that their renewable energy system produces. The term net metering refers to the method of accounting for the electricity production of a renewable energy system. Net metering allows homeowners with such systems to use any excess electricity they produce to offset their electric bill. As the homeowner’s system produces electricity, the kilowatts are first used for any electric appliances in the home. If more electricity is produced from the system than is needed by the homeowner, the extra kilowatts are fed onto the utility’s grid.

Net Metering System

  • Uses renewable resources as fuel, I.e., solar, wind, hydropower, biomass or another alternative generation system pre-approved by the utility.
  • Has a generating capacity of less than 50 kilowatts (kW).
  • Is located on the member-generator’s premises.
  • Operates in parallel with the FEC distribution system.
  • Is primarily intended to offset part or all of the member-generator’s requirements for electricity at the specific site where the generation is installed.

Net Metering

  • The member’s meter measures the electricity the member uses from the utility system less the electricity the member’s system puts back.
  • The excess electricity produced is fed into the utility’s grid and credit is given to the member at the retail rate.
  • At the end of the month, if the member has generated more electricity than they used, the utility credits (banks) the net kilowatt-hours produced, offsetting used energy.
  • If the member uses more electricity than they generate, they pay the difference.
  • Net metering allows homeowners who are not home when their systems are producing electricity to still receive the full value of that electricity without having to install a battery storage system.
  • The power grid acts as the customer’s battery backup, which saves the customer the added expense of purchasing and maintaining a battery system.

Download Flathead Electric Cooperative’s Net Metering Procedure, agreement, and application: Net Metering Under 50 kW (PDF)


Another option you have with generation on your home or business is to install a battery system to store your excess generation. In these circumstances, the excess electricity generated by your system could be stored on-site in your battery. Your battery could potentially be programed to discharge during our Peak Hours to help you avoid a high demand charge, or it could be used as standby power source during unexpected power outages.

Please contact us if you are contemplating battery storage. Your Co-op energy advisors may have rate considerations for you to think about before you make this energy investment.

What is Interconnection Generation?

Interconnection generation refers to member-owned generation facilities, small power producers, and co-generators with a nameplate capacity of 50 kW or higher and less than 20,000 kW.

Due to the larger sized generation facilities and the complexity of interconnection to Flathead Electric Cooperative’s distribution grid and potential impacts to Bonneville Power Administration, Flathead Electric requires a more detailed application process for interconnection generation. Depending on the size of your generator, you may be required to enter into a power purchase agreement, provide verification of ownership of site, and/or apply with Bonneville Power Administration for a Transmission Operator agreement.

Download Flathead Electric Cooperative’s Interconnection Generation Procedure (Appendix B
contains the application): Interconnection Agreement 50 kW or higher (PDF)

Need to Talk to an Energy Advisor?

For additional information about net metering, battery storage, or to discuss a potential interconnection generation, get in touch with us.

Additional Information on Renewable Energy: