Article by:
Austin Young
August 3, 2021
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Virtual Net Metering for Multi Family Units: A Win-Win for All

The use of solar energy on multi-family properties has grown in popularity and application in the last 10 years. California, with its long and sunny days, has taken a leading role in making the most of this freely available source of power. The introduction of virtual net metering marked the beginning of solar energy being made available to multi-unit tenants outside of the high-income group. It boosted the opportunity of onsite shared solar communities providing increased accessibility to clean power sources for tenants. Virtual Net Metering takes away the challenges posed by the lack of space for solar panels and can be an effective solution to bringing cheap solar access to low-moderate income families. With VNM, renters can enjoy the benefits of solar access without having to go through the hassle of figuring it all out. Since renters have shared roofs in most cases doing solar on their own is not even a possibility.

What is Virtual Net Metering?

VNEM is an acronym for Virtual Net Energy Metering — which is just another name for Virtual Net Metering (VNM). So VNEM = VNM. (VNM) is a tariff arrangement that enables a multi-meter property owner to allocate the property's solar system's energy credits to tenants. The VNM tariffs were first piloted under the CSI Multi-family Affordable Solar Housing Program (MASH) as a means of providing equal and direct benefits of the solar system to low income tenants in an affordable housing complex. It is a simple yet mighty solution that brings solar to even those without homeownership These credits can be added to any utility account on the parcel of the VNM system.

Historically, multi-tenant buildings with individual electric meters for each tenant faced difficulties installing distributed solar PV systems because of the problem of assigning the benefits of the generation to each tenant account. A system could easily be connected to a common area load or to an individual tenant, but if it was connected directly to multiple loads, there would be no way of ensuring equitable distribution of the generation. Some tenants would benefit more than others. Installing multiple systems, one for each tenant or load in the building, is cost prohibitive. For more information on the specific information according to your utility provider visit the CPUC's VNM webpage-Virtual Net Metering (

 Benefits of Opting for Virtual Net Metering

With the advent of virtual net metering, solar energy is becoming more affordable for a wide range of households, especially the multi-family units in California. This trend has resulted in a slew of developments in the market.  Renters in multi-unit housing without roof rights still get to access clean energy to save money on utility bills. Currently, California is the most progressive state where landlords and renters in multi-family units can take advantage of VNM. Its adoption is flourishing rapidly due to the following reasons:

Onsite Generation allows for direct Benefits to Tenants

(VNM) allows multi-tenant building owners to install a single solar system onsite to cover the electricity load of both common and tenant areas connected at the same service delivery point. The electricity does not flow directly to any tenant meter, but feeds directly back onto the grid. The participating utility then allocates the kilowatt hours from the energy produced by the solar PV generating system to both the building owner's and tenants' individual utility accounts, based on a pre-arranged allocation agreement. The idea behind VNM is to help tenants receive the direct benefits of the building's solar system, rather than all of the benefits only going to the building owner.

●  Access to Additional Financing Options

Programs like California’s Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) Program and other similar initiatives have been set to encourage more people to adopt solar and other cleaner sources of energy. Virtual net metering helps in creating a new channel to invest in solar energy and programs like these act as a catalyst for these investments.

More Appealing Properties for Renters and Investors

A renter is more likely to choose a building that has onsite solar access opportunities compared to buildings that do not. Ivy's Virtual Grid software creates a fair model for distributing the benefits of VNM by providing access to clean energy benefits and guaranteed savings for residents, To learn more about the benefits Ivy provides to tenants visit-Residents (

The aforementioned benefits are just some of the key reasons why every state should push for VNM, just like California. Creating a positive impact in lowering the cost of living and subsequently helping improve the finances of lower- and middle-income groups. VNM can involve the use of online billing software like Ivy’s Virtual Grid software which layers intelligence to the onsite solar system. Ivy’s solution takes into consideration real-time data to create a more equitable distribution of solar energy. It is the only company offering a fair model in the market today, offering a clear path to return on investment for property owners while providing guaranteed savings for tenants. It can be used with or without a property management system and is an ideal solution for those looking for simplified solar billing. Get in touch with Ivy today to learn more about the benefits Ivy provides to property owners- Profitable Solar for Multifamily Owners (