Nevada may be considered an excellent location for producing solar electricity, but only if you happen to be this state’s solo power utility, Nevada Energy.
The once-popular idea of placing solar panels on rooftops in order to feed the grid as a distributed energy producer in order to receive compensation from the utility has become a “no-go” following changes from the Public Utilities Commission that reduce the credits customers receive for selling excess solar power to the grid.
Net metering becoming an oxymoron in Nevada; second-round victory goes to utilities
The Nevada Public Utility Commission (PUC) has changed rules surrounding net metering and increased the fees charged to the owners of solar systems. Following the Nevada PUC change order, reports from MIT Technology Review and Reuters state SolarCity is pulling back from the Nevada rooftop solar marketplace, cutting 550 jobs in the process.
“The departure marks an escalation in the war over net metering that is roiling the industry,” writes Richard Martin at MIT Technology Review.
SolarCity said it would cut 550 jobs in Nevada. The company indicated it would relocate the affected workers to business-friendly states. The company also closed a training center in West Las Vegas.
SolarCity CEO Lyndon has said he was “convinced” Nevada’s Governor and the utility commission “didn’t fully understand the consequences of the decision.”
While net metering in the US has propelled the spread of rooftop solar in some states, it has been met with staunch resistance in other states, including Nevada.
Nevada becomes the first state to drastically revise its policies on net metering, claiming net metering fees represent an unfair transfer of costs to the utilities and non-solar customers.
Some rooftop solar champions fear the Nevada ruling may spur a negative change in the economics of rooftop solar. Anticipated challenges to existing net metering programs are taking place in other solar markets, including California, Arizona, and New York.
Right now the future of net metering and the relationship between distributed energy owners and utilities remains unclear, writes Martin.
“Ultimately, the resolution of the net metering wars could come in the form of an open market for distributed energy generation, where producers can trade directly with consumers and prices are set by supply and demand, paired with some form of minimum service charge for the utility. Such systems have started to emerge in Germany and elsewhere.”
Image: Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park via Shutterstock
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