Even when the Public Utilities Commission completes its work today on how people with rooftop solar power installations are to be billed for the power they use and the power they sell to NV Energy, no one will really know whose ox has been gored because the power company still will have to calculate the actual rates and that may take a couple of days. Even then it will take a rocket surgeon to figure it out.
A 113-page draft order, if approved by all three commissioners, will open the door to so-called net energy metering (NEM, in PUC jargon) to TOU (time of use) billing. This was briefly discussed in a previous post.
Originally, NV Energy proposed that NEMs would be paid a wholesale rate of 5.5 cents per kWh for power uploaded to the grid, as opposed to the current retail rate of 11.6 cents. But the wholesale rate the power company pays for electricity depends on the time of day due to power demands and loads.
The draft order envisions paying rooftop solar generators based on TOU, which can be as much as 50 cents per kWh.
That’s when in gets complicated. The PUC is telling the power company to present in its next rate case arguments for whether rooftop solar owners will have to switch to TOU or can opt in or out.
As reported in the morning newspaper, the whole thing has solar panel installation companies squealing that changes in NEM will drive them out of business, but would TOU change the game?
Frankly, it is impossible to calculate until NV Energy applies some hard numbers, and even then it will take a higher level of calculus than I ever mastered.
The whole came up because NV Energy argues that a customer who installs solar panels and becomes a so-called net metering customer cuts his power bill by up to $1,181 a year on average, while the utility avoids no more than $519 in purchased power costs, suggesting ratepayers without solar panels essentially subsidize those with panels.