In a blow to rooftop solar customers statewide, current and future, net metering was dismantled in the Silver State last December by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) of Nevada, forcing layoffs in the sector. Now, a flurry of actions suggest that may be about to change at least existing solar customers.
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval’s (R) New Energy Industry Task Force presented a suit of clean energy bills, including one that recommended grandfathering existing net metering customers, and a looming referendum on the ballot to reverse all the PUC’s net-metering changes. At almost the same time Nevada Energy filed with the PUC to grandfather its existing rooftop solar customers, and those with pending applications, into the previous net energy metering rates for the next 20 years. This would allow those customers with multi-year contracts to see the return on their investment they expected when they signed the contracts.
Not only did the PUC abolish net metering in the state, it enacted a high monthly payment for solar users. The twin insults led some of the nation’s largest home solar installers to withdraw from the state, costing thousands of jobs. After the commission voted against grandfathering those existing solar customers in February, the governor’s office got involved.
In the past, Nevada Energy has claimed that NEM is a subsidy that unfairly burdens non-solar customers. Now, the utility appears to suddenly support Nevada’s existing solar customers, perhaps due to a potential looming election ballot referendum in November that would allow voters to undo the NEM changes altogether.
”I have spoken with many of these net metering customers personally, and understand and empathize with their concern,” said Paul Caudill, president and CEO of Nevada Energy. “We simply did not want to wait any longer to offer a solution on their behalf and believe our filing today represents the most efficient and timely way to do that."
Marketplace stability for solar power is important. After net metering was cut in Nevada, residential solar installations declined 93 percent. Protecting users from increased rates is crucial to the future of green energy, and a positive solar policy climate could bring back jobs as well as foster new employment opportunities in Nevada. Nevadans are ready to take action of their own on the ballot referendum that is likely to happen in November, and according to The Bring Back Solar Alliance, “If our leadership won’t take action, it should be up to the voters to decide.”Tweet