PUC staff proposes reneging on contracts with current solar panel owners

Say what?

Buried in the morning newspaper story today about rooftop solar panels hitting the peak capacity allowed under law was a brief mention that the Public Utilities Commission staff is proposing abrogating current contracts with homeowners who already have solar panels.

“The staff recommendation would bring all net metering customers, including those in the current program, under the new rate structure,” the story states.

Net metering is basically a system by which home solar panels that generate more power than the home is using upload power to the grid and get those kilowatt-hours deducted from the monthly bill at whatever the current retail rate is.

Though the story does not spell out what that means, an earlier story notes that NV Energy has proposed that future rooftop solar panel customers would get credited for so-called “returned” power at a rate of only 5.5 cents per kWh instead of the current 11.6 cents.

Applying this proposal retroactively to current solar panel owners would cause their power bills to increase and make the length of time for them to realize a return on their investment even longer.

Rooftop solar panel companies have argued that the NV Energy net metering proposal could mean that any new solar panel installations might never realize a positive return on investment, and this could put them out of business and end 6,000 jobs.

Yes, several years ago I installed solar panels in my backyard. The NV Energy rebate program at the time paid for about half of the cost. I save money every month but have not yet reached the point where the savings cover my part of the installation cost. Without the rebate it would never have penciled out. Without the full return power credit, it will take longer.

Would you enter into such a deal if one side could change the terms of the contract at any time arbitrarily?

Bryan Miller of Sunrun Inc., a solar panel installer, was quoted as saying, “It is outrageous and it is shameful. It should be completely disregarded.”

The PUC has a Dec. 31 deadline to set rates for new net metering installations and lift the cap on rooftop solar panels as allowed by Senate Bill 374.

What makes this all doubly confounding is that state taxpayers shelled out $1.2 million two years ago to attract rooftop solar panel installer SolarCity to open in Nevada and compete with current panel installers.

Backyard solar panels.






19 comments on “PUC staff proposes reneging on contracts with current solar panel owners

  1. Barbara says:

    What the government giveth it can take away or change as the money flows…

  2. Speaking of money flows, the stock market is killing us.

  3. Steve says:

    Shows what happens when a socialist country tries to ease away from controlling their economy. Specially if that country was able to become the second biggest economy in the world. Mainly because the USA gave it to them.
    3% is a correction. I wonder, will Monday bring some buying opportunities?
    Or will the fall continue?
    The US economy is not showing weakness and it is China driving the plunge. If the market continues this fall, the Fed won’t be able to start raising interest rates which will fuel the market. On the other hand, if the FED finds excuses to raise rates that will cause a drop in the stock market all over again.
    Perversely, I am looking for drops so I can put more money into investments.

  4. Steve says:

    Here is a neat chart showing what the FED action has done to the market.

  5. Barbara says:

    Your chart demonstrates the bubble the Fed has caused in our market. We have had very weak economic growth, and I would not be putting any new money into the market. I thought this was an interesting article.

    Click to access 150822_TFTF.pdf

  6. Steve says:

    A falling market is the best time buy stock.
    If it goes as far south as he seems to be saying it might, then it doesn’t matter what you have in your savings or how you have it saved, if things go that bad we are all screwed.

  7. Steve says:


    This says it well. And those millionaires made real mistakes running away at the bottom and coming back near the top.

  8. […] panels mostly — at the very time Nevada has shut down rooftop solar construction because it has hit a cap 235 […]

  9. If NV Energy was buying back surplus solar generated power at the same rate they distribute power (11.6 cents per kwh)…then they have been overly generous (or overly frivolous, depending on your perspective). I have never heard of such a thing. I worked 35 years in this industry…and the company I retired from bought back surplus solar power at about 44% of the delivered rate per kwh. That company by the way, was also purchased by Warren Buffet ten years ago. So it would appear Warren and his management team are bringing NV Energy’s policies up to snuff and in line with the majority of utility companies across the country.

  10. Steve says:

    The net metering rate you describe, Brien is mandated by Nevada.
    The legislature told the PUC to come up with new rates because the current ones apply only to the installed base up to the cap. That cap was reached last Sunday.

    If you want to have a real shock, look at the mandated rates Massachusetts and Washington (state) force on the power companies.

    For electricity produced using solar modules manufactured in Washington state: 2.4 (or $0.36/kWh)
    For electricity produced using an inverter manufactured in Washington state: 1.2 (or $0.18/kWh)
    For electricity produced using both solar modules and an inverter manufactured in Washington state: 3.6 (or $0.54/kWh)

    Get that? 54 cents PKH if you buy equipment manufactured in the state of Washington.
    Rich people LOVE it. This is about as regressive a tax as anyone could ever come up with.

    Massachusetts makes it complex (of course) but it is just about as regressive as Washington.

    That website rates all the states.

  11. I guarantee you…the buy back rate for NV Energy will change now that Warren Buffet is at the helm. I’m sure a lot of pressure was put on the PUC by Harry Reid and his ilk to try and help the push to renewable energy to succeed under the old rate system…but those days will soon be over. Also…the proposed rate structure of renewable energy changes (as stated in the story above) will apply to all solar customers! There’s a new sheriff in town, and Mr. Buffet has been around the block a few times…these changes will become etched in marble…sooner, rather than later. And yes…some of those rates in other states ARE shocking…particularly in Oregon and Washington where Buffet operates utility companies also.

  12. […] Energy currently has a requested pending before the PUC that would cut the amount of credit for solar power uploaded to the grid from […]

  13. […] kWh, which is closer to what the company pays for wholesale power. The PUC staff has even suggested making the rates retroactive for existing solar panel […]

  14. […] Investor’s Business Daily, in a front page article, reports solar panel installers are threatening to pull out of Nevada, a move that would cost an estimated 6,000 jobs. […]

  15. […] SolarCity’s Rive said of those customers, “Most disturbing is the PUC’s decision to retroactively sabotage existing solar customers’ investments by changing the rules on them. The Nevada government encouraged these people to go solar with financial incentives and pro-solar policies, and now the same government is punishing them for their decision with new costs they couldn’t have foreseen. These actions are certainly unethical, unprecedented, and possibly unlawful.” Actually, NV Energy did not initially propose to make the changes retroactive. That came from the PUC staff. […]

  16. […] the power company did not propose that existing owners have the rug jerked out from under them. That came from the PUC staff. The Sun blames the greedy power […]

  17. […] the suit names only NV Energy and not the PUC is unclear. It was the PUC staff that came up the idea that current solar panel owners would not be grandfathered and continue to get the rates they were […]

  18. […] PUC staff proposes reneging on contracts with current solar panel owners […]

  19. […] fact, it was the PUC staff that that proposed abrogating existing contracts with residential solar panel owners and rolling out the much higher rates. Public buildings and […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s