NV Energy now proposes grandfathering existing solar panel customers’ rates

The devil is always in the details.

On Monday NV Energy put out a press release saying it will submit a proposal to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to “grandfather” existing rates for residential owners of solar panels “to allow existing net energy metering customers to remain on old rules over a transition period as long as 20 years.”

Transition to what and how quickly?

The PUC put into force on Jan. 1 new rates that “transition” over four years and eventually increase the connection fee for solar panel customers from $12.75 to $38.51 and cut the credit for power uploaded to the grid from 11 cents per kWh to 2.6 cents — to the point some solar panels owners could be paying more for power than neighbors without solar panels, hardly a worthy investment.

Many or most of those existing solar panels were installed at the encouragement of the state Legislature and NV Energy with the added inducement of subsidies from power company revenues, often covering half the cost of installation. This allowed the owners to cover their investment within the 20- to 30-year lifetime of the panels, which otherwise would not the case.

NV Energy has not yet stated what its rates eventually would be or what the rate curve will be.

The power company announcement came about the same time the PUC voted to rehear the grandfathering issue after rejecting it a couple of weeks ago. There is also a group planning to file a petition that would seek voter approval of the old net metering rules and rates.

“This grandfathering proposal is being offered in recognition of NV Energy’s desire to treat all customers, including those who had previously made a decision to install rooftop solar, fairly,” the press release quotes Paul Caudill, NV Energy president and chief executive officer, as saying.

The release also said that the company did not take a position on grandfathering in its original filing with the PUC in July.

In 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 schools are exempted, of course.

“The staff recommendation would bring all net metering customers, including those in the current program, under the new rate structure,” An Aug. 22 newspaper story relates.

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.

According to an earlier story NV Energy had 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.

NV Energy now says it will submit its new proposal to the PUC on Feb. 1 and propose letting current solar panel owners “remain on the old net energy metering rules over a transition period as long as 20 years.” Again, what transition means is not explained.

The PUC’s new net metering rates ignited a storm of protests, litigation and acrimony largely directed at NV Energy.

“We also understand the history of net metering in Nevada and that a fair, stable and predictable cost environment is important to all of our customers,” Caudill said. “Our proposal seeks a balance for those who selected solar prior to the implementation of the new rules ordered by the PUCN and those without solar.”

Shawn Elicegui, NV Energy senior vice president of regulatory and strategic planning, also attempted to make the company look less the villain of the piece.

“The December 23, 2015 Commission order was the result of a fully litigated, public proceeding made on the basis of a sound evidentiary record. The record includes two hearings, the testimony of 28 witnesses, more than 100 exhibits, and hours of transcribed testimony. NV Energy’s rate proposal was not accepted by the PUCN, but recognizing the open public regulatory process, we will fully comply with the balance of the order,”Elicegui said. “We feel strongly, however, that the grandfathering proposal we plan to make fairly balances the interests of all of NV Energy’s customers and stakeholders.”

Might also keep the company from having to spend time and money on litigation and endless hearings.

Grandfathering of existing solar panels does nothing for the thousands of jobs lost by solar panel installers due to the new metering rates.

Also on Monday the PUC put out a press release announcing the approval of 20-year renewable energy contracts that add 129 megawatts of solar generation capacity in Clark County — the 79-megawatt Playa Solar 1 project owned by First Solar and the 50-megawatt Boulder Solar II facility owned by SunPower.

The release said the price is less than 4 cents per kilowatt-hour and noted that, because the plants are owned by independent companies, ratepayers will not incur any risks and will to have to pay a return on equity that would be necessary if NV Energy were the builder.
According to filings with the PUC, NV Energy agreed to pay 3.87 cents a kWh for power from First Solar’s plant plus a 3 percent a year escalating charge — which pencils out to about 5.2 cents over 20 years — and 4.6 cents a kWh with no escalator for power from SunPower Corp.’s project.
At the time of the contract negotiations the Energy Policy Act of 2005 was set to expire at the end of 2016 and would have ended investment tax credits amounting to 30 percent of the value of solar projects. That doubtlessly twisted the arms of the First Solar and Sun Power to make a deal while they could still make a profit.
Since then Congress extended the tax credits through 2019, after which they decline gradually to 10 percent in 2022. After 2022 the tax credit will be eliminated for residential solar panels but will continue at 10 percent for commercial ones.
Without the subsidies, tax credits and favorable rate structures solar panels for homes or industry simply don’t pencil out.



15 comments on “NV Energy now proposes grandfathering existing solar panel customers’ rates

  1. Suzette LaGrange says:

    So will they “grandfather” and fix the rates of regular power customers too? Just wondering. Having a fixed guaranteed rates for 20 years would be great!

    Suzette LaGrange suzette@suzettelagrange.com C 702 217 5890

    Sent from my handheld phone. Please pardon any typos or misspellings. Thanks!


  2. Nobody said “fixed” rates, just transition.

  3. Nyp says:

    Today’s Second Amendment Moment – one dead in Bundy shootout with federal agents

  4. Steve says:

    One “militia” member. It’s currently unclear who shot him.

    The feds did a good job on this one. Unlike Ruby Ridge and Waco, they waited for the occupiers to come out of the compound and break another law. This was a traffic stop that, predictably, went wrong, in a good way.

    On this one, I agree (based on initial information) with the feds.

  5. nyp says:

    Today’s second Second Amendment moment: 5 shot in Seattle.

  6. Steve says:

    Ahh, a bumfight with an illegal weapon.

    Come up with a law that means something and you will win the election, nyp.

  7. Steve says:

    To date, police in the USA have killed 59 people. I guess the Oregon incident will make that 60.

    Your “second amendment moments” have a way to go in catching up with “law enforcement”, nyp

    Get on the stick!

  8. Steve says:

    Officers found the victims in a greenbelt known locally as The Jungle. The area is located near the interchange of Interstates 5 and 90, and is known for having several homeless encampments, as well as being crime-ridden.

    “This area … has been unmanageable and out of control for almost two decades,” Seattle Mayor Ed Murray told a news conference late Thursday.

    Oh yes,,,,such a good thing for confiscation efforts. Crime ridden out of control areas,,,so lets make MORE!

    Take away the instruments of control and that control reverts to the few. That is the world Nyp wants.

  9. Steve says:

    And then there is this;

    The shooting occurred as Murray gave a major address on homelessness in the city, which he called “a crisis we have not seen since the Great Depression.”

    Now, call me blinded by the liberal light, but I thought the economy “recovered” and everything is now just peachy keen fine hunky dory……


  10. Tony P. Simmons, P.E. says:

    The current PUCN dockets 15-07041 and 15-07042 on Net Metering are hampered by the big yet-to-be unacknowledged NRS violation by NV Energy.

    Eight years ago on June 14, 2007, Section 3 of AB 178 of 2007 Legislature became effective. Section 3 added NRS 704.775 Section 2 (c) 4 below. The failure began as an honest oversight by overly confident (arrogant) employees.

    “The value of the excess electricity must not be used to reduce any other fee or charge imposed by the utility.”

    Prior to this legislation, the calculation method allowed more credit. The changed calculation methodology correctly prohibits any speculative credit. NV Energy failed to apply this new statue to Net Metering Customers (including yourself) since June 14, 2007.

    The regulatory process and participants failed to detect the unlawful calculation through five general rate cases and the 2014 net metering investigation. Obviously, this repeated failures undermines all PUCN proceedings since 2007.

    The PUCN is in controlled failure. The appointment of Chairman Thomson may have been ntended to manage the pending collapse of the PUCN regulatory process.

    The recent inexplicable actions by the BCP suggest they understand the issue.
    The rescinded request for rehearing, the comments about early adopters, interviews, and prolonged investigation hint at something game-changing.

    The NRS violation is not acknowledged in the current docket. The commissioner are aware of the violation. The commission cannot re-institute a tariff that violates NRS and cannot directly acknowledge a fact not in the record.

    Since 2007, all rooftop solar customers made the decision to install PV systems on NV Energy supplied incorrect information. Expect Berkshire Hathaway to fund the proposed effort to grandfather existing NEM customers as a defensive measure.

    NV Energy and PUCN management to be replaced now that the failures have been exposed.

    The deceptive trade practices lawsuit against NV E will be much easier with a verifiable NRS violation.

    In addition to the risk associated with the NRS violation, NV Energy has another big pending liability in the stalled PUCN investigation into smart meter fires docket 14-0915. The record shows PUCN tried to close the docket without action. The Fire Chief’s request was a constructive setup in the interest of public safety.

  11. Interesting:

    NRS 704.775  Billing; calculation of net energy measurement; treatment of excess electricity; status of net metering system under portfolio standard.
    1.  The billing period for net metering must be a monthly period.
    2.  The net energy measurement must be calculated in the following manner:
    (a) The utility shall measure, in kilowatt-hours, the net electricity produced or consumed during the billing period, in accordance with normal metering practices.
    (b) If the electricity supplied by the utility exceeds the electricity generated by the customer-generator which is fed back to the utility during the billing period, the customer-generator must be billed for the net electricity supplied by the utility.
    (c) If the electricity generated by the customer-generator which is fed back to the utility exceeds the electricity supplied by the utility during the billing period:
    (1) Neither the utility nor the customer-generator is entitled to compensation for the electricity provided to the other during the billing period.
    (2) The excess electricity which is fed back to the utility during the billing period is carried forward to the next billing period as an addition to the kilowatt-hours generated by the customer-generator in that billing period. If the customer-generator is billed for electricity pursuant to a time-of-use rate schedule, the excess electricity carried forward must be added to the same time-of-use period as the time-of-use period in which it was generated unless the subsequent billing period lacks a corresponding time-of-use period. In that case, the excess electricity carried forward must be apportioned evenly among the available time-of-use periods.
    (3) Excess electricity may be carried forward to subsequent billing periods indefinitely, but a customer-generator is not entitled to receive compensation for any excess electricity that remains if:
    (I) The net metering system ceases to operate or is disconnected from the utility’s transmission and distribution facilities;
    (II) The customer-generator ceases to be a customer of the utility at the premises served by the net metering system; or
    (III) The customer-generator transfers the net metering system to another person.
    (4) The value of the excess electricity must not be used to reduce any other fee or charge imposed by the utility.
    3.  If the cost of purchasing and installing a net metering system was paid for:
    (a) In whole or in part by a utility, the electricity generated by the net metering system shall be deemed to be electricity that the utility generated or acquired from a renewable energy system for the purposes of complying with its portfolio standard pursuant to NRS 704.7801 to 704.7828, inclusive.
    (b) Entirely by a customer-generator, the Commission shall issue to the customer-generator portfolio energy credits for use within the system of portfolio energy credits adopted by the Commission pursuant to NRS 704.7821 and 704.78213 equal to the electricity generated by the net metering system.
    4.  A bill for electrical service is due at the time established pursuant to the terms of the contract between the utility and the customer-generator.

  12. […] PUC is considering a NV Energy filing calling for grandfathering rates for existing residential solar and transitioning rates over 20 […]

  13. […] PUC is not set to “transition” net-metering rates over 12 years and eventually increase the connection fee for solar panel customers from $12.75 to $38.51 and cut the credit for power […]

  14. […] PUC voted to “transition” to new net metering rates over 12 years and eventually increase the connection fee for solar panel customers from $12.75 to $38.51 a month and cut the credit for […]

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