When they are right, they are right. When they are wrong, they are wrong.
For the second time in a matter of weeks the Las Vegas newspaper used its editorial page to criticize the state for propping up the rooftop solar power industry with tax credits and subsidies and favorable rate structures.
They are right. The rooftop industry would never have gotten off the ground without generous subsidies and tax credits and even then the systems would not have penciled out for homeowners if they were not allowed to deduct from their monthly bills the number of kilowatt-hours uploaded to the grid — which is called net-metering.
It never should have happened but it did.
But they are wrong to swallow NV Energy’s bogus claim that somehow those who do not own rooftop solar are subsidizing those who do. It is also wrong to “take” the property value of those who were persuaded to install rooftop systems with their own money but are now told they can never recoup their investment because the state regulators changed their minds.
“Indeed, NV Energy was paying rooftop solar power generators 11.5 cents per kilowatt hour for excess energy, more than twice as much as the utility company paid for energy on the open market (4.4 cents per kWh),” the Review-Journal editorializes, failing to note that 4.4 cents is the 24-hour average but that solar panels generate extra power during the peak period when rates can easily exceed 30 cents per kWh. Nor do they note that NV Energy has contracts to pay more than 13 cents per kWh for industry scale solar power.
NV Energy has even set up Time of Use (TOU) rate schedules that its customers may choose to opt into. That’s what smart meters are for. Under one payment schedule a residential customer in the summer would pay 36 cents a kWh during peak hours but only 6 cents during off-peak hours. Another schedule with different parameters would charge 50 cents a kWh during summer peak.
Today’s editorial concludes without so much as a blush of self-awareness, “Nevada is well into the race to provide businesses with incentives, chasing and being chased by other states eager to do the same. But the state would better serve its citizens by getting out of economic development altogether and halting the subsidization of private enterprises that will compete against companies that aren’t subsidized.”
I don’t recall the R-J expressing indignation at the handouts for Tesla Motors and Faraday Futures, merely a couple of cautionary notes and calls for vigilance and transparency.
I do seem to recall a recent editorial praising the use of public money to build a stadium backed by the paper’s new owner Sheldon Adelson. There is a story in today’s edition stressing that the funding model isn’t final, though it still lists the public funding as covering 65 percent of cost.
There also is a story about the state doling out grants to build recharging stations for electric cars, for which the power would be free for five years. The state just can’t stop.
Today’s editorial is based on the NV Energy calculation that solar panel owners have been avoiding paying their fair share of infrastructure costs — to the tune of about $52 a month.
The Public Utilities Commission answer to this specious claim was to triple connection fees for those on net-metering and slash to less than 3 cents the compensation for uploading a kWh of electricity. They are now contemplating grandfathering existing net-metering customers for 20 years, as the R-J reports today. California recently grandfathered existing solar customers, as have other states. Of course, this will do nothing to renew the rooftop solar installation companies who have laid off workers and stopped doing business in Nevada.
But The Alliance for Solar Choice begs to differ. In a PUC filing, the group claims NV Energy failed to adequately take into account the value of exported energy during peak hours, which reduces 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)