The Nevada Public Utilities Commission has decided to screw over the suckers who were enticed by the state to install solar panels on their rooftops — at considerable expense — over 12 years instead of four, jacking up connection fees and lowering credits for uploaded power every three years until 2028, instead of every year until 2020.
The decision dismisses calls to grandfather rates for current owners of rooftop panels who purchased them under the presumption that state policy was to encourage renewable energy. A draft order posted online continues to embrace the bizarre and illogical premise that somehow non-solar panel owners are subsidizing solar panel owners. The draft is peppered with denigrations of solar panel owners such as: “Ignorance of the law is no excuse …”
But, apparently, ignorance of math is.
It also points out again that contracts always stated that rates were subject to be amended. Amended not abrogated.
There is absolutely no difference between the owners of solar panels and those who choose to reduce their power consumption by being frugal and efficient, except that the power company can meter the solar panels and readily identify the dirty culprits who refuse to increase the profits of Warren Buffett, the billionaire owner of NV Energy.
A white paper titled “Shining Rewards” by the Environment America Research & Policy Center claims that residential solar panels provide a net benefit to the power companies and are not being subsidized by other customers, as NV Energy claims.
Here a couple of its findings:
Solar energy creates many benefits for the electricity grid:
• Avoided energy costs: Solar energy systems produce clean, renewable electricity on-site, reducing the amount of electricity utilities must generate or purchase from fossil fuel-fired power plants. In addition, solar photovoltaic (PV) systems reduce the amount of energy lost in generation, long-distance transmission and distribution. These losses cost the country millions of dollars every year.
• Avoided capital and capacity investment: By reducing overall demand for electricity, solar energy production helps ratepayers and utilities avoid the cost of investing in new power plants, transmission lines and other forms of electricity infrastructure.
• Reduced financial risks and electricity prices: Because the price of solar energy tends to be stable over time, while the price of fossil fuels can fluctuate sharply, integrating more solar energy into the grid reduces consumers’ exposure to volatile fossil fuel prices. Also, by reducing demand for energy from the grid, solar PV systems reduce its price, saving money for all ratepayers.
While NV energy claims somehow that solar panel owners are being subsidized by others at a rate of $52 a month, The Alliance for Solar Choice calculates that each residential solar panel owner provides a net benefit of $12.08 per month to NV Energy. (TASC subsidy filing)
The PUC draft order also dismisses the arguments that the new rate structure is a Fifth Amendment taking by saying every investment is a risk. In this case the risk is that you were being defrauded by the state with a bait-and-switch scheme.
The PUC is now 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 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.
Another bogus argument is that NV Energy is paying rooftop solar power generators 11 cents per kWh for excess energy, which is more than twice the 4.4 cents per kWh the utility company pays for energy on the open market. But that 4.4 cents is the 24-hour average. Solar panels generate extra power during the peak period when rates can easily exceed 30 cents per kWh.
(Disclosure: I am one of those dirty cheaters.)