In few places has the argument over net-metering been more tumultuous than Nevada. The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) at one point ended net-metering overnight in the state. Since then the commission has reinstated it but in a patchwork fashion. Now a new pro-consumer, net-metering bill, AB 270, is working its way through the legislature and has the support of the solar industry.
“Prior to 2016, Nevada had been a national leader in distributed generation, [and] more specifically rooftop solar,” wrote the Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA’s) Sara Birmingham, senior director of state affairs in the letter. “However, in late 2015 with the dissolution of net metering, we have seen a tremendous implosion of what was a vibrant, growing industry. The PUCN itself stated that ‘the (NEM) Final Modified Order all but crushed the rooftop solar industry in Northern Nevada, reducing the booming industry from 983 applications by residential homeowners and small commercial businesses in Sierra Pacific Power Service territory in 2015 to 41 applications in 2016.’” (Note the rise in rooftop solar and subsequent fall in the chart.)
The bill, according to SEIA, would allow the state to resume its place as one of the nation’s leading states for solar all-around while increasing jobs. When the commission eliminated net metering it lost nearly 3,000 solar jobs. When the commission grandfathered net metering for existing customers it reversed the controversial decision but did not set a clear path forward for net-metering, which reimburses rooftop solar customers for the energy the put on the grid.
The new bill, if enacted would expand net-metering in the state beyond a ceiling set by former legislation. “Generally, this bill provides that each electric utility is required to offer net metering to customer-generators operating in the service territory of the utility under the tariffs, rates and charges in effect before the passage of SB 374,” the bill text stated. It also stated that if the customer with solar is billed under a time-of-use rate schedule, the excess electricity they put back on the grid “is added first to the time-of-use period with the highest rate.” The bill was introduced by four Democratic Assembly members, including Justin Watkins, Chris Brooks, Steve Yeager and Ozzie Fumo.
SEIA asserted that establishing this bill as law would allow the state return to being a national leader in distributed generation and rooftop solar. It would also allow it create more solar jobs in the state. “Strong net metering policies benefit all consumers, allow solar adopters to be fairly compensated for the benefits they provide to the grid and help utilities ensure smoother electricity delivery and avoid infrastructure costs.”
Whether or not utilities in the state are for or against the legislation isn’t known at this point. However earlier this year, NV Energy and solar installers appealed to the PUCN to at least extend a deadline to enroll existing solar customers in the net-metering program.Tweet