Nevada’s Public Utilities Commission quashed the growth in residential and small business solar power when it eliminated net-metering for all residential solar installations. A booming industry quickly dropped 93 percent when the commission made its ruling, moreover those with solar already installed found their systems would unexpectedly cost them more and take longer to pay off. Now the commission is revisiting its earlier ruling but the biggest company in rooftop solar—SolarCity, which installed thousands of the more than 20,000 residential installations—is being kept out of the proceedings.
"The presiding officer has excluded the one party that the people of Nevada actually chose of their own volition, their solar provider,” contended SolarCity Chief Policy Officer Jon Wellinghoff, a former Nevada state consumer advocate. “It makes no sense to exclude these Nevada ratepayers from the table given SolarCity has been fighting for the grandfathering of these solar customers from day one."
Utilities in the state have fought net-metering, which allows residents and business owners to sell excess energy produced by their solar arrays back to the grid, and found willing ears in the utility commission. However, voters in Nevada petitioned (unfortunately unsuccessfully) to place a referendum on the ballot to support net metering and in the mean time Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval (R) created a New Energy Industry Task Force, proposed a suite of clean energy bills and did not reappoint the utilities commission regulator who imposed the end of net-metering and new fees on those with rooftop solar systems.
The governor’s actions show progress towards a more equitable resolution to the net-metering issues in the state. But the commission’s decision to not include SolarCity—and perhaps other multi-state solar companies—shows there is likely still resistance to allowing net-metering in the future in the state.
SolarCity and other solar companies immediately appealed the commission’s decision to repeal net-metering. Meanwhile the lead utility in the state, NV Energy waited five months to issue an advice letter to the commission that would reverse the newly imposed charges, according to SolarCity. During that period of time solar customers in the state were required to pay the extra fees and lose their net-metering.
“Those customers should have been given relief in February when the Commission issued its denial of our petition for rehearing,” SolarCity said. “The utility's delay gives credence to the cynical notion of some that this proceeding is meant to rehabilitate NV Energy's waning public image, rather than support what's in the best interest of Nevada's solar consumers and other ratepayers.”
“SolarCity fully expects Nevada solar customers to be grandfathered.…We will continue to advocate for grandfathering existing solar customers, and for fair and equitable rates for those who wish to go solar in the future,” SolarCity stated.Tweet