When the Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUC) adopted new net-metering rates for residential owners of solar panels, effective Jan. 1, it did so based on NV Energy calculations that solar panel owners were avoiding paying their fair share of infrastructure costs — to the tune of about $52 a month. Thus, the PUC raised the connection fee for net-metering customers and slashed the amount of credit given for power uploaded to the grid.
But The Alliance for Solar Choice begs to differ. In a recent filing with the PUC, the group claims NV Energy failed to adequately take into account the value of that exported energy during peak hours that reduce the need for additional power generation and capital costs.
TASC calculates that each residential solar panel owner provides a net benefit of $12.08 per month to NV Energy and does not require a subsidy of $52 a month. (TASC subsidy filing)
“Exported energy effectively reduces deliveries to neighbors, so should reduce increases in aggregate need to invest to meet capacity growth,” TASC argues in its filing. “These adjustments, which are based on evidence in the record of this proceeding, demonstrate that Vote Smart is correct in concluding that Net Metering does not result in an unreasonable cost shift.”
Vote Smart has also filed challenges to the net-metering decision.
The PUC is considering a NV Energy filing calling for grandfathering rates for existing residential solar and transitioning rates over 20 years.
Meanwhile, the net-metering battle has moved to Washington, where Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, and Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, are seeking an amendment they say would block states from jacking up rates on solar panel owners and save the future of the rooftop solar industry, according to the Review-Journal Washington bureau today and the R-J Carson City bureau yesterday. (Where this power is granted in the Constitution is certainly questionable, because interstate commerce is probably not involved.)
“We should not be pulling the plug on clean energy at a time when more and more Americans are making it work,” Reid said in comments on the Senate floor, according to the R-J.
Meanwhile, on the front page of Investor’s Business Daily, it is reported that subsidies will continue to make residential rooftop solar economical in 2017, but “Nevada won’t be among them.”
IBD says the Nevada PUC overhaul of net-metering rates and the rapid exit from the state of several solar panel installers show the “residential solar market still relies heavily on subsidies and favorable regulation.”
“Clearly, you’re not going to have the opportunity you’ve had in recent years in that market,” an analyst told IBD. “Given that, in our view, demand is going to hit the floor in Nevada.”
Amid all this, petitions are being contemplated to allow the voters to overturn the PUC net-metering decision and to break up the NV Energy monopoly, the R-J reports.
Nevadans for Affordable, Clean Energy Choices’ petition would allow NV Energy customers to choose another source of power by 2023. Several casino companies are already trying to get the PUC to allow them to buy cheaper power elsewhere.