About Energy311

What do we do?

E3 is a billing service that helps commercial property owners sell clean energy to tenants at market rates. Since electricity rates are far higher than the cost of solar in many areas, E3 helps owners turn their rooftops into a new revenue stream, increasing building value by more than 10%.

diagram showing how energy311 works

Is Energy311 another solar developer?

No. E3 has several partners that can perform solar construction and installs. We can help select a qualified solar construction partner. We also work whomever the property owner's preferred construction partner is to perform the work. Our billing service can be added to any existing solar install at any time.

Is Energy311 another hardware meter company?

No. We work with several hardware metering companies as well as the local utility to pull 15 minute interval usage data.

Hardware meter companies are designed to charge for power at a fixed rate. These solutions are often combined with PPAs and have the same disadvantages. See discussion of PPAs above.

What metering technology do you support?

E3 supports collecting data from the following utilities:

Atlantic City Electric (ACE), American Electric Power Ohio (AEPOHIO), Alabama Power (ALPower), Ameren (Ameren), Appalachian Power (AppalachianPower), Arizona Public Service Company (APS), Austin Energy (AustinEnergy), Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE), Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company (CEIC), Commonwealth Edison (ComEd), Consolidated Edison New York (ConEd), Dominion Energy Virginia (DOMINION), Eversource Energy (EVRSRC), Florida Power and Light Company (FPL), Georgia Power (GAPower), Hawaii Electric (HECO, MECO, HELCO), Jersey Central Power and Light (JCPL), Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP), Mon Power (MonPower), National Grid (NATGD), Nevada Energy (NVE), New York State Electric and Gas Corporation (NYSEG), Ohio Edison (OhioEd), Orange and Rockland Utilities (ORU), Pacific Power Utilities (PacPower), PECO Energy (PECO), Penelec (Penelec), Potomac Electric Power Company (PEPCO), Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Portland General Electric (PORTGE), Pennsylvania Power and Light (PPL), Public Services Electric and Gas (PSEG), Public Services Electric and Gas - Long Island (PSEGLI), Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO), Rocky Mountain Power (RMP), Southern California Edison (SCE), San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E), San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas), Salt River Project (SRP), Tucson Electric Power (TEP), West Penn Power (WestPennPower), Xcel Energy (XCEL).

Why not use a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) instead of E3? Are PPAs a bad idea?

Yes. Power purchase agreements (PPAs) are a bad idea.

PPAs solve the problem of financing solar investments by selling a fixed amount of power to a tenant for a fixed rate. In such an arrangement, the tenant signs a long term (20+ year) contract with the property owner to purchase a minimum amount of power at a set rate, with a 3-5% per year rate escalator. Such paperwork introduces risks for both tenants and owners:

  1. A Long term, heavy (50+page) contract is not appealing to either party.
  2. It's difficult to predict fair electricity pricing over 20 years. Higher than expected market price results in lost profits for the property owner. Lower than expected market pricing means unhappy tenants that are paying too much for electricity.
  3. It's difficult to predict energy consumption. Higher than expected consumption by tenants reduces owner revenues as more grid power needs to be purchased at market rate, and sold at a fixed rate. Lower consumption means that tenants are paying for electricity that they won't be using.
  4. With a PPA, the property owner is still burdened with the responsibility of tracking energy usage, and providing a bill to the tenant. The bills produced are rudimentary, single line invoices.

Read our whitepaper on how to increase energy revenues by 3X over a traditional PPA

Do I need to install a solar system?

Not at all. We can create bills to distribute electricity costs fairly to multiple tenants with or without any clean energy installed. To realize profits from onsite generation of power, a solar system, wind, or other electricity generation must exist.

Billing Process

How is the bill calculated?

E3 tracks billing rates published by the local utility. Typically these rates change once a year, but can change more often, even quarterly, as the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) gets pressure from local utilities to raise rates.

Total Bill

Similar to the local utility, E3 crunches 15 minute interval usage data and calculates time of use, generation, transmission, demand, meter fees, credits, taxes, etc. The bill produced has the same type of information as the local utility bill - charges are accurate to the penny.

Ongoing Bill

E3 also tracks how much energy is produced by the solar system. We then determine what the ongoing local utility bill will be after solar credits are applied, accurate to the penny.

Solar Value

E3 then calculates the value of solar as follows:

Solar Value = Total Bill - Ongoing Bill

Discount Amount

An optional discount can be applied to the bill. The discount can be a fixed amount, or a percentage. Percentage discounts are applied to the power derived from solar, rather than total bill.

Discount Amount = Solar Value - Fixed Discount


Discount Amount = Solar Value * Discount %

Tenant Bill

Tenant's new bill is calculated as follows:

Tenant Bill = Solar Value - Discount Amount + Ongoing Bill

If the tenant is paying grid fees directly to local utility, then Tenant Bill will be

Tenant Bill = Solar Value - Discount Amount

Why does it take so long to publish my bill?

E3 depends on electricity usage data, also known as 15m interval data, from your local utility company, or other 3rd party metering service. Interval data can take up to 30 days to be sent by the metering service provider to E3. We publish bills as soon as we have collected data for the entire month.

Can the bill be split up by square footage (RUBS)?

If submetering is not a viable option or is unavailable, the E3 bill can be divided for each tenant based on square footage, known as Ratio Utility Billing System or RUBS.

Why are public purpose programs, nuclear decommissioning, and taxes added to the bill?

E3 calculates the fair market value of solar by creating the bill as if the entirety of the electricity was bought from the local utility. The property owner decides what fees and taxes should be included in the Solar Value calculation.

For some utilities, such as PG&E, the local utility bill shows total bundled rates rather than unbundled rates. On such bills, the tariff isn't broken down into its components, so the bill displays one line item for energy rates. Most CA utilities show unbundled rates on their bills, which is how E3 does its billing. Examples of unbundled rates include: Generation, Distribution, Transmission, Transmission Rate Adjustments, Reliability Services, Public Purpose Programs, Nuclear Decommissioning, Competition Transition Charges, Energy Cost Recovery, Wildfire Fund Charge, New System Generation Charge, Wildfire Hardening Charge, etc.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Can I charge tenants for solar power in California? Oregon, Hawaii, New Jersey, Delaware, Arizona, Massachusetts, etc.?

Many states explicitly allow property owners to sell power to tenants. These states include: Arizona, California, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Washington D.C., Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

Read our blog post on power purchase agreements by state.

Is it legal to charge tenants for solar energy in California?

For details, see Story v. Richardson, 198 P. 1057, 186 Cal. 162., a 1921 decision of the California Supreme Court holding that a landlords' provision of utility service to a tenant is not public utility service subject to regulation by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

Read our blog post on charging tenants for power in California.

How do I amend the lease to charge tenants for solar power?

Before charging tenants for solar power, you should review your lease agreement to see if tenants are already expected to pay the landlord for electricity. Some of the concepts below discuss the terms that you may want to have in your lease agreement before charging for electricity.

How to amend the lease to charge tenants for solar power

How do I sell solar energy to tenants that are on a triple net (NNN) lease?

Tenants on NNN lease pay the local utility for electricity. Often the lease has no provisions for billing for onsite generated electricity from solar and batteries. E3 can help you transition your tenants to clean energy. See details here:

Triple Net (NNN) Leases and Commercial Solar

How do I distribute solar energy in a multi-metered, multi-tenant building?

Several options exist to distribute solar energy in a multi-metered building. These include Net Energy Metering Aggregation (NEMA), Virtual Net Energy Metering (VNEM), dedicated solar system per tenant. Find out the pros and cons of each approach here:

How to distribute and bill for solar in a multi-tenant building

What if I don't want to buy a solar system? Financing options?

If the owner does not want to finance the project themselves, we can proceed with a roof lease. Similar to a tenant lease, we will lease the roof from you and take responsibility for maintaining the roof and solar system. We purchase the solar system, bill tenants, and collect payments. With this option, property owners can quickly increase building revenues at no risk to them.

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Energy311 DOES NOT provide any legal advice and users of this web site should consult with their own lawyer for legal advice. This web site (the "Site") is a general service that provides legal information over the Internet. We are not a law firm and our employees are not acting as your attorney. The information contained in the Site is general legal information and should not be construed as legal advice to be applied to any specific factual situation. If you are unsure whether your particular situation requires that a document be changed, you should consult a lawyer. Any use of the Site DOES NOT create or constitute a solicitor-client relationship between Energy311 or any employee of or other person associated with Energy311 and a user of the Site. As the law differs in each legal jurisdiction and may be interpreted or applied differently depending on your location or situation, the information or use of documents on the Site is not a substitute for the advice of a lawyer.