Update on Rooftop Solar Controversy in Nevada

rooftop solar
By Kcferret (Personal Photo by Kcferret) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Alliance for Solar Choice is a coalition of installers dedicated to protecting and promoting net energy metering. Net metering is essential in order to make viable for residential and commercial installations. Members of Alliance for Solar Choice are: Demeter Power Group, Geostellar, Inc, LGCY Power, REPOWER by Solar Universe, , and SunTime Energy.

The group issued the following statement, after Nevada’s largest utility, NV Energy submitted a new proposal to the Nevada Public Utilities Commission on rates for existing solar customers after the last proposal which was approved by the Commission led to most solar installers to announce that they would be forced to leave the state and lay off workers:

Yesterday, NV Energy submitted its proposal to the Nevada Public Utilities Commission on rates for existing solar customers. Despite previous statements from the Berkshire Hathaway-owned utility that the proposal would allow existing solar customers to remain on original net metering rates for as long as 20 years, their proposal seeks to implement the rate increases for existing solar customers in as little as four years. In fact, their filed testimony contains several drastic changes from their previous statements.

“NV Energy dangled a carrot in front of its customers last week, but the monopoly isn’t actually committed to treating all Nevadahomeowners fairly,” said Dale Matz, Independent contractor and North Las Vegas solar homeowner. “Instead, this is simply a public relations play that seeks to pad Warren Buffett’s bottom line.”

  • In their January 25th statement proposing 20 year grandfathering, NV Energy claimed that “The Company did not take a position on grandfathering in its original filing made July 31, 2015.” In fact, in its original proposal to the Commission, NV Energy actually requested indefinite grandfathering of existing solar customers.
  • After proposing indefinite grandfathering, NV Energy backtracked and proposed on January 25th “to allow existing net energy metering customers to remain on old rules over a transition period as long as 20 years.” Today NV Energy has changed its story yet again, proposing seven different options. Only one option delays new charges for the full 20 years, and NV Energy discourages the Commission from adopting it.
  • Finally, NV Energy proposes only to apply limited grandfathering to customers who installed solar before September 10, 2015. This directly contradicts NV Energy’s press release last week that recommends “that rooftop solar customers who installed systems prior to the PUCN’s orders be allowed to remain on the old net metering rules… [and] also recommend that customers who submitted valid applications prior to the PUCN’s order be provided the same opportunity.”

Paul Caudill, NV Energy president and chief executive officer, said that the new proposal allowing for 20 year grandfathering was offered to treat customers “fairly.” However, according to NV Energy’s customers, the new proposal is just another example of the utility’s duplicitous PR schemes.

The Alliance for Solar Choice filed testimony today showing that the three other jurisdictions that have changed rates for solar customers have provided grandfathering indefinitely or for a minimum of 20 years.

Just before Christmas, Governor Sandoval’s Public Utilities Commission approved the elimination of net metering, the backbone of residential solar adoption nationwide. In its place, the Commission allowed NV Energy to adopt a nearly $40 per month charge and a drastically reduced rate for power sent to the grid. In an unprecedented move, the Commission ignored every party to the case, including NV Energy, and made the new rates apply to both existing and new solar customers. The 17,000 Nevadans that went solar will experience a drastic reduction – or elimination – of their solar savings and the value of their investment. The Commission is set to reconsider this part of the decision in a hearing on February 8th.

“This is now the second bait and switch from Berkshire Hathaway’s Nevada utility,” said Bryan Miller, Sunrun Senior Vice President of Public Policy & Power Markets and President of The Alliance for Solar Choice. “Governor Sandoval’s Commission should grandfather in all solar users permanently and overturn the entire anti-solar decision.”

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This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.

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