That didn’t take long.
On Wednesday the PUC let stand its decision to drastically alter the deal residential solar panel owners had with NV Energy. Today lawyers filed a class-action lawsuit in Clark County District Court seeking to overturn the changes and seeking damages.
The PUC made the indefensible and unsubstantiated claim that past rates established for owners of solar panels somehow shifted costs to those who do not own solar panels.
Why 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 promised when they purchased solar panels, not NV Energy.
The suit notes that the plaintiffs and members of the class “were misled and now have expensive solar power systems that do not provide the promised rebates, discounts and rates misrepresented by Defendants and which cannot cover their own costs in any reasonable amount of time.”
It also challenges the cost shifting claim by saying the electricity provided by solar panel owners to the power company — exclusively by contract — is transported to non-solar customers who pay the full retail rate and are within the vicinity of the solar customer, thus reducing the cost of transport of power over any distance.
It also accuses NV Energy of undertaking “activity directly in restraint of trade, including price fixing by raising the price of the base rate or service charge of net metering customers only, eliminating discounts, and establishing lower values for credit given to electricity generated by net metering customers and fed back to the Defendants.”
The suit uses the losses of one the two named plaintiffs to project losses for the nearly 15,000 solar panel owners in Southern Nevada to come up with damages of $27 million — probably a bit high in my estimation.
The suit does not mention the discriminatory nature of the new tariffs, which apply to residential customers only while public buildings and schools are grandfathered under the old tariff system.
Residential net metering customers will see their connection fee increase from $12.75 a month to $38.51 or higher and their credit for uploaded power cut from more than 11 cents per kWh to 2.6 cents.