Clean Power

Published on January 18th, 2016 | by Rocky Mountain Institute

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Nevada PUC May Be Setting State On Path Toward Grid Defection

January 18th, 2016 by  

Originally published on RMI Outlet.
By Chris Nelder and Mark Dyson

Over the past month, the state of Nevada has been at the center of a national debate about how utilities treat customers with solar PV—and for all the wrong reasons. Through about Q3 2015, Nevada had been a leading state for solar PV. But in late December, Nevada’s regulators—reinforced by a controversial public utilities commission decision earlier this week—effectively pulled the rug out from under the state’s residential rooftop solar market.

A booming solar market

blog_2016_1_15-1Thanks to its previous retail rate net metering and abundant sunshine, Nevada has had a booming solar market. In 2013 it generated more of its power from solar than any other state, according to U.S. EIA data. Through the end of 2014, Nevada ranked fifth in the nation for cumulative installed solar PV capacity and that year ranked third for new installed solar capacity, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

Much of that solar growth in Nevada has been in the state’s residential rooftop segment. It is the tenth-largest market for installed residential solar capacity in the nation, and its Q3 2015 residential installations quadrupled compared to Q2, according to GTM Research and SEIA’s Solar Market Insights 2015 Q3.

And of course Nevada is famously the location for Tesla and Panasonic’s new lithium-ion battery “Gigafactory.”

But then, in late Q4 2015, Nevada turned all this positive momentum on its head.

New rate structures spurn solar customers

On December 22, regulators approved a new solar tariff structure that dealt a powerful blow to the state’s residential rooftop market in what amounted to a one-two punch: a) a substantial increase to the fixed charges solar customers, coupled with b) a substantial decrease to the compensation they’d receive for net exported generation. The net effect is it sinks the economics for grid-connected rooftop solar in the state.

More specifically, under the old rate structure, solar customers paid a fixed charge of $12.75 a month (the same as non-solar customers). Under the new structure, the charge jumps to $17.90 a month in 2016, then increases by $5.15 each year until it reaches $38.51 a month in 2020. (Customers who do not have solar will continue to pay the old, $12.75 fixed charge.) Meanwhile, the rate that solar customers pay for grid-supplied power declines slightly from 10.8 cents per kWh in 2016 to 9.9 cents, while the rate they are paid for excess power delivered to the grid falls sharply from 9.2 cents to 2.6 cents, or from roughly the retail rate to the wholesale rate.

The new rates took effect on January 1, and—incredibly—will retroactively apply to all solar customers, even those who bought their systems under the old tariffs. (Such customers are typically grandfathered in.)

The new rate plan was a response to the complaints of the utility NV Energy, which has a monopoly in the state. The utility claimed that the old net metering tariff shifted roughly $16 million in costs annually from Nevada’s roughly 17,000 solar customers to non-solar customers.

Strong backlash, but Nevada holds firm

Industry representatives, solar customers, and advocacy groups protested vehemently, calling the decision regressive, illegal, and even unconstitutional for changing the terms of the existing solar customers’ contracts, which typically run for 20 years or more. Top solar companies, including SolarCity, Sunrun, and Vivint, immediately ceased operations in the state and laid off hundreds of workers, promising legal action. In all, roughly 6,000 solar jobs in the state are now at risk.

After a day-long hearing on Wednesday, in which hundreds of solar customers testified before the commission and around one thousand people protested, including actor and climate activist Mark Ruffalo, the Nevada PUC rejected appeals by solar customers and industry advocates to stay the implementation of the new rate plan pending a reassessment of its impacts.

The result? According to Greg Ferrante, who founded the Nevada Solar Owners Association in response to the PUC decision, instead of seeing a return on his solar PV investment in 7 years, it will now take 18 years. And the days of opening his monthly power bill and seeing a charge of $56 instead of the $690 he had before installing the system are over.

Demand flexibility helps, but is no panacea

So what do Nevada solar customers—existing and potentially new—do now?

In our October 2015 report The Economics of Demand Flexibility, we analyzed similar situations in Hawaii and Arizona where utilities changed the rules for new PV customers by introducing less-favorable rates. We found that customers in those two states could cost-effectively install PV even under the new, less-friendly tariffs if they also took advantage of demand flexibility, shifting their electricity demand to coincide with the output of their solar systems and thus increase self-consumption and decrease exposure to reduced export compensation.

For example, by programming their air conditioners, water heaters, and EV chargers to run when the sun is shining, a customer could consume their self-generated solar power and reduce their peak-hour demand, effectively getting the retail rate credit for their PV energy (and in the case of Arizona, reducing demand charges).

According to our calculations, by exercising demand flexibility in this way, a Nevada solar customer could increase the amount of the self-generated power they consume from an estimated 50 percent to nearly 70 percent, and reduce the impact of the new tariffs by 25 percent. For customers who want to go solar anyway in the face of Nevada’s new rate structure, this is good news. But the bigger picture isn’t so rosy. Because of the sizeable and unavoidable fixed charge and severely reduced compensation for remaining exported solar generation, even with demand flexibility, it is unlikely that solar PV will be cost-effective for residential customers under the new tariff.

blog_2016_01_15-2

The specter of grid defection?

What customers may ultimately choose to do, however, is divorce their systems from the grid entirely, in what we have called grid defection. While this may not be cost-effective today for most Nevada customers, some PV owners are already considering it.

As we explored in our 2014 study The Economics of Grid Defection and its 2015 follow-on The Economics of Load Defection, the confluence of rising utility rates and declining costs of solar-plus-battery systems may lead some customers to cost-effectively disconnect from the grid, or in the case where they don’t disconnect, shift a large majority of their own load to these behind-the-meter resources.

What could this mean for the grid? Instead of building a grid that integrates customer-owned, behind-the-meter resources, policies that encourage grid defection may lead to a Balkanized grid in which thousands of customers simply generate and consume their own power, with increasing unit costs for any energy served by the existing grid.

The electricity grid is at a fork in the road, and Nevada chooses a path

In the long run, grid defection is likely bad for everyone. Every stakeholder in our electricity system should recognize that the electricity system is at a fork in the road, and that decisions we make today around how distributed energy resources are integrated into the grid will have long-term impacts on the decisions that customers make and the shape of our electricity system in the future.

blog_2015_07_01-3

The Nevada Public Utilities Commission, by pursuing high fixed charges and very low export compensation for customer-owned PV, may be setting the state on a path towards grid defection, and forgoing the significant benefits of pursuing an integrated grid—one where all resources, central and distributed alike, are fully leveraged to enable a clean, low-cost, and reliable electricity system for all customers.

Nevada’s decision comes at a time when more states than ever are choosing their path—from New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision proceeding, to California’s More Than Smart initiative and net metering successor tariffs, to Hawaii’s recent move to post-net metering solar rate structures. These reforms are complex and full of nuance, as states strive to quantify the true costs and benefits of distributed PV and reflect those values in rates. There is room for debate across many dimensions of these issues, and getting the answer right may look different across the country.

As of late 2015, 27 states were considering changes that would reduce the attractiveness of their net-metering policies, according to a report by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center. But until now, no state has retroactively changed the terms of existing solar customers’ long-term contracts with the utility. If Nevada sticks with this strategy, it will surely face legal challenges. For now it remains a controversial cautionary tale, and other states and their utilities should think very carefully before following suit.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Reprinted with permission.


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About the Author

Since 1982, Rocky Mountain Institute has advanced market-based solutions that transform global energy use to create a clean, prosperous and secure future. An independent, nonprofit think-and-do tank, RMI engages with businesses, communities and institutions to accelerate and scale replicable solutions that drive the cost-effective shift from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables. Please visit http://www.rmi.org for more information.



  • dave

    One thing we should all do is boycott Berkshire Hathaway products, like RC Willey, Geico insurance, Dairy Queen, Fruit of the Loom underwear, Johns manville insulation/building products, kirby vacuum cleaners and many more. wikipedia berkshire hathaway to see what else to boycott.

  • dave

    I’d gladly get rid of my solar system if I could get reimbursed for it. What a horrible waste of money that turned out to be.

  • Plantiful

    This is the result of Electric power generators in the American Legislative Exchange Counsel (ALEC ): this group of corporations writes generic bills for state legislators to bring back home to pass. This topic of legislation has passed in Arizona and Oklahoma. They tried in Massachusetts and failed, and they are trying again.
    They argue for minimum bills, but arguing to the energy-related legislators that this “grid expense” should be proportional to the NET electricity taken into a home from the grid based on a percentage for ALL households on the grid.

    That way, a PV owner can schedule more usage during the day. Only the consumer of electricity should pay for grid maintenance, not a supplier, otherwise it is clearly discrimination.

    Find the responsible legislators (those that sponsored this corporate abomination and those that voted for it) and vote them out of office: they are neither Republican nor Democrat. They are of the Corporate Party.

  • Hans

    If there was still net metering (price for exported electricity equals consumer retail price) a storage fee is somewhat justifiable. But with the net metering changed into a very low feed in tariff you already pay a storage fee of 6.5 ct per kWh. To also add a fixed “storage fee” is paying double.

  • Hans

    Interesting, I suggested such a solution in another comment, but it was judged as impossible under the rules by other commenters.

    • Hans

      Ofcourse it is not a real solution, only a workaround.

  • rsexton

    The owner has deep pockets and so should be sued for punitive damages. Also for any extreme weather events caused by climate change or any air pollution related medical issues or deaths they should be sued also for their contribution. Or they should be hit with a carbon tax. Either we are all in this together or we are not and they sound like they are not concerned with clean energy. They are not looking like good partners. They don’t look like they care. They should at least look like they care but it seems to be the opposite. They are showing what happens to cost when there is a monopoly and exemplifying it.

    Too bad because until this they were doing great. Hard to believe they threw away all of that good will. And the governor also. Election wise this will not play well.

    Governor Brian Sandoval may not be at fault here but most likely that will not help with politics as people will still blame him for not somehow making this right.

    So the PUC claims that the other Nevadans pay an extra what, 10 cents or less on their bill for supposed grid maintenance? You know clean energy and clean air is worth something! They act like it is an expense that is worth nothing. Not too mention most of that is probably new infrastructure that they are getting top dollar for.

  • onesecond

    Does anyone know, when it might become cost effective to go off grid in Nevada?

    • vensonata

      Check out off grid land prices, then you will see that off grid is already cost effective. If you are already on the grid, then that is different. The first rule of off grid is reduce through efficiency. Secondly “load shifting in low light season” That means in winter you have heat back up from natural gas, propane or bio fuel. These days with that properly done, one could live exclusively without a back up generator through PV and Battery. Water thermal storage is necessary though. Hot water domestic use lends itself perfectly to storage as does some space heat stored as water. Thermal storage is much cheaper than battery storage. If you are the “nervous type” then a simple propane stand by generator like RV’s use, is the easy 100% reliable answer. How much? Depends, but because efficiency is maxed out you won’t be too much above grid price on an annual basis.
      The problem with discussions about “off grid living” is they are tainted by “old school thinking”. The off grid house these days, is going to start on the high end. Like a Tesla Models S of a house. There are a few out there now. Huge luxury houses with large ground mount dual axis panels and week long lithium battery banks. The motive is that because you have money you prefer not having to be connected to the grid riff raff. You can charge your Model S at home on your PV etc. Why not? What is money for? High end houses have had emergency generators for decades now. Not much is new.

    • newnodm

      I would not go off grid in most of Nevada without being certain of adequate energy for air conditioning. It ain’t Hawaii.

      • vensonata

        PV and Air Con are a perfect fit. It is always sunny when hot in Nevada, it is not a muggy climate. There is a very reliable synergy between the two. Cooling can also come from “ice Battery” or the amazing swamp cooler which is so much more efficient than air con. Ceiling fans can make a 5 degree difference in the “feeling” of air temperature.
        The solar production is incredible in Las Vegas. Type the numbers into

        http://pvwatts.nrel.gov/ It will give you monthly ratings. Summer is overwhelming production.

  • theWRONGpath

    imagine the panicking by big energy when more people start going OFF grid….
    don’t let these corporations control you….
    power from the sun is worth every penny invested….

  • John

    The homeowner could view the $38 solar surcharge as partial funding for a storage system. If the average charge is $40/mo (including sales tax in NV?) that $480/year could a pretty good storage system with ROI of 10 years or so.

    • GCO

      It’s unlikely to work that way. The PUC decision was based on NVE’s argument that it collects less money from PV owners (what a surprise), so I don’t see adding storage as a way for someone to escape its new “solar tax”.

      If anything, following NVE’s logic, customers combining PV with storage may now contribute even less to its profits, so should be charged yet more fees to compensate.

      • Hans

        “The PUC decision was based on NVE’s argument that it collects less money from PV owners”

        Will it also introduce an additional fee for people that use efficient appliances or live a more sober life with less appliances?

  • NRG4All

    Somewhat in jest, maybe a savvy Nevadan will see if they can “crowd source” enough to buy enough battery storage to get off the grid. The attraction would be to stick it to monopolies, and dirty electrical generation.

    • GCO

      I understand that some people will want to go off-grid just to “stick it to the man”, but this seems counterproductive compared to directing those efforts and money at changing the regulations.

      First, utilities can maintain their profits by charging more other customers, or for other services, like the natural gas that off-grid folks will likely still need for their heat and backup generator anyway.

      More importantly, leaving the grid results overall in dirtier, not cleaner energy.

      Compared to grid-tied solar, off-grid requires batteries and more PV among other things; their manufacturing and eventual elimination aren’t environmentally benign. PV surplus also will go wasted instead of powering up neighbors and displacing dirtier sources.
      Looking at the bigger picture, unless the system is oversized (exacerbating overproduction waste) and the climate mild and sunny year-long, being off-grid makes it very hard to eliminate fossil fuels for heat, transportation, and backup power.
      I don’t have enough roof space to power the heat pump and EV with PV in winter, and would have continued to burn gas instead if not for grid-provided wind and hydro.

  • timbuck93

    Does anyone do cold brew coffee? It saves a LOT of electricity if you can get someone to grind the beans right for you. You’ll want coarsely ground beans, not at all fine ground. Also you won’t be putting coffee pods that aren’t easily recyclable into the trash.

    • vensonata

      Hand grind man, it’s good exercise.

    • newnodm

      Don’t mess with my coffee.

  • halslater

    Hey NV, how about using the power of the ballot box and throwing those idiot republicans out of office and, yes, it is a totally partisan issue. Democrats want renewables and individual freedom, republicans don’t give a sh*t about the environment and their idea of freedom is the freedom to fleece the public.

    • Robert Burns

      You’re a moron. I’m a Republican and I very much give a sh*t about the environment.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Cut the name calling.

  • dRanger

    It’s ironic that this decision will facilitate battery storage as produced by the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada. Perhaps there is some clever strategy here (but I doubt it). If going off-grid does become a reasonable option, how long before we see punitive “grid disconnect” fees, to compensate for previous utility investments, don’cha know.

    • Mike Shurtleff

      “punitive “grid disconnect” fees” Again, I don’t think so. There has to be a limit to the over-reach of their abuses.

      As to the irony: A drowning man will clutch at anything to try and stay afloat. Same for utilities/PUC I guess.

      • Steven F

        “There has to be a limit to the over-reach of their abuses.”

        Spain reached that limit when they put a heavy tax on the power the panels produced, even if the home was not connected to the grid. The parliament ruling coalition was voted out of office. The dominant ruling party lost big.

        • John Moore

          I’m curious. Did they get voted out over that issue, or something else?

          • Hans

            To paraphrase Bill C.: It was the economy, stupid!

    • Otis11

      Riiight… they try that and a bunch of people will ‘disconnect’ by simply not paying their bill.

      I mean that’s what happens when you stop paying your bill, right? They threaten to disconnect you?

      • GCO

        They also threaten collection. Ignoring a bill or a debt is a very bad way to try and make it go away.

        • Otis11

          Yes, in general, but if the only thing you owe is a “disconnect fee,” they’ll have a hard tone justifying that if challenged, and debt collection is typically expensive…

          So realistically they’ll let you out of it… Your credit score will just take a hit…

          Or did I miss something?

    • Ronald Brakels

      Place the electricity account in the name of one member of the household. Then that person then moves out and gets the power disconnected on account of how they are no longer living there. Then that person moves back into the house that is now disconnected from the grid.

  • Marion Meads

    What will prevent the state of nevada from implementing energy storage fees for households? If they can get away with rooftop solar, they would require inordinate licensing fees to install battery energy storage or come up with another rate structure to fleece out their customers, and of course, the least of which could be the stranding fees.

    • vensonata

      Which is a further reason for going off grid.

      • Marion Meads

        they would make sure that going off grid isn’t going to worth your while either, from what I first posted.

        • Mike Shurtleff

          A violation off first amendment rights? I don’t think so.

        • Andy

          The worst the power company can do is cut off your power for non-payment. They have no influence over a storage setup strong enough to go off grid.

    • just_jim

      Because currently the State of Nevada isn’t getting any money for solar. It’s a private company and their seeming wholly owned subsidiary the Nevada Public Utility Commission. If someone goes off grid, and the Nevada PUC says pay the utility anyway, the ex-customers can say “up yours” or something even more impolite, and ignore them.

      The state has no incentive to discriminate against solar or storage. And the PUC should have no authority over non-customers.

    • Steven F

      “What will prevent the state of Nevada from implementing energy storage fees for households?”

      If they did that the law would likely be challenged in court and the state would likely loose. If the court rules in favor of the state an appeal would be filed and the public would vote out anyone in government that favored the law. Unjust taxes seldom last long in democracies

      • John Moore

        Steven, I wish you were correct. What happens is that the public does not become angry. The public does not vote out these type of politicians. The public will not care if they favored such a law. Nobody is paying attention.
        And if it makes it to the Supreme Court, well, check the Roberts led Court. There is next to zero chance of winning. Roberts has never once ruled in favor of the public vs corporate interests. Sorry to be so downbeat, but I can picture the bad guys prevailing on this.

        • GCO

          “First they came for the solar PV owners, but I did not speak out,
          because I wasn’t a PV owner.
          Then they came for the battery owners, but I did not speak out,
          because I wasn’t a battery owner. …”

    • MarTams

      Yes especially the retroactivity part that was approved on appeals! If they can get away with this, greedier goals in the future will be spawned. They’d better be sued to bankruptcy.

  • Anthony C

    The next wave of solar will be the companies that master the microgrid, since the people who have property that just doesn’t support solar need to be brought into the fight. Best way to do that is have a small area where the homes that have great solar resources share a minigrid with the houses that don’t. Then the microgrid hub which will mainly be a big shared battery, can only buy electricity when it’s running low and won’t be penalized for having solar since the microgrid doesn’t have solar, the customers of it do.

    The thing that doesn’t make sense is trying to limit a house to generating less than 100% of it’s usage. If I can cover me and my neighbors usage and he can’t go solar at all, why should I be punished with higher rates or not be allowed to. These utilites have to come to understand, they can be partners going forward or they can be enemies left in the dirt, there’s no option C.

    • Steven F

      The only reason I can see for restricting the max power output of solar would be to prevent transformers from being overloaded. Depending on the design the transformer may have a different power limit when feeding power to the grid then removing power from the grid. However the answer to that is to force the utility to upgrade the transformers

      Hawaii’s utility used to claim that they had to do a grid study prior to approving each installation. This delayed installations for months and then when people looked at the small number of completed studies they found that often no problems were found. The public then applied pressure to PUC and the utility. The PUC forced the utility to approve the installations and the state legislature passed a 100% renewable portfolio standard law (30% by 2020, 40% by 2030, 70% by 2040) Now the utility is scrambling.

    • Hans

      A gated community with their own microgrid. That would be an interesting development.

  • evfan

    Strange how states with abundant sunshine (NV, AZ, HI) are so anti-solar. It makes me think our elected leaders care about their friends more than the electorate.

    • Otis11

      Well, many of them want to build their own utility scale solar plants – like Nevada where it can cost as little as 2.2 c/kWh, but they need to balance the grid. That means every kWh produced by rooftop solar is a kWh they can’t produce for 2.2c and sell at 9.9c.

      It’s not that they’re anti-solar, they’re just anti-revenue-declines.

      That said, I fully oppose this measure and hope they get the pants sued off of them. The retroactive part is likely illegal and could be challenged in Federal court as a matter of interstate commerce since some of the solar companies are California based…

    • Robert Burns

      Ya think?

  • Zorba

    Agree with some of the other sentiments here. It’s interesting that they’ve just given a boost to the home storage market, both for financial and emotional (those now angry with the utility who want to stick it to them) reasons.

  • JamesWimberley

    The greed of NV Energy has led it and its catspaws in the PUC to make a huge tactical mistake in insisting the hike be retroactive. They have made every existing solar home-owner a furious member of the opposition, and made the change legally vulnerable at the same time. This isn’t over yet. I hope the opposition aims for the gut by proposing (like commenter Hans) full electricity market deregulation, with a split between generation and transmission.

    • TatuSaloranta

      Fully agreed. Tactically it seems incompetent: had they grandfathered existing users, they would have fractured the opposition. And they will need all the help they get; inattention of existing (and presumably most solar-friendly) customers would have helped a lot.
      I guess it is good from Renewable Energy standpoint, if there is any silverlining here.

    • John Moore

      James, I hope you are right. The greed and corruption of these people knows no bounds.

  • vensonata

    A juicy topic with so many implications. The authors try to give due regard to the “communal” benefits of the grid. But of course its more about “convenience” than anything else…since at least 60% of the grid is fossil fuel based and of that 35% is coal fired. What about that “community harm”. It is harmful to everyone. Now going off grid en mass is not likely to happen suddenly, especially since perhaps only 25% of Nevada residences are suitable. But even if 5% did, it would advance knowledge and technology and cost effectiveness of the new solar tsunami that must inevitably arrive by 2030. They would merely be advance scouts. And these days, (and it is just now that suitable batteries and inverter tech has arrived thanks to Tesla) it is quite convenient and easy to go off grid. Will you “save” money? No. Will it “cost a fortune”? No. Let us remove the hysteria from it. Off grid in suburbia will quickly become ho hum.
    “Back up” is likely to take the form of natural gas or propane as heat sources rather than much in the way of propane generators. Battery banks will be modest and PV arrays substantial. But energy can be supplied up to 95% year round through solar without much trouble. The last 5% can be highly efficient alternatives.

    • Steven F

      “It is harmful to everyone. Now going off grid en mass is not likely to happen suddenly, especially since perhaps only 25% of Nevada residences are suitable. ”

      Source for this claim? Most homes have large enough roofs to support 10Kw of solar panels and many can support even more. most also have enough space outside for a battery installation. Efficiency improvements could also greatly reduce the size of the needed array.

      • vensonata

        The source of this claim is yours truly. It is merely a conservative guess about how many rooftops have a reasonable orientation to the south. 25% sounds reasonable and has been thrown around. All such estimates are mere approximations.
        An 8 kw array due south at 35 degrees produces over 14,000 kwh year in Las Vegas. That is more than enough to cover energy use of a moderately sensible house. Modern batteries can be mounted inside, and they don’t take up much room…or in the garage.

        • Steven F

          The most popular size is 10KW which is enough to meet the needs of your average home. Also you are forgetting about east west facing roofs. East / West facing roofs do very well during sunrise and sunset and will produce some power during midday. If 25% have south facing roofs, then 50% will have east / west facing roofs. for a total of 75%. Also the array doesn’t have to tipped toward the sun. Many solar panels on large businesses are mounted horizontal and generate acceptable amount of power.

          • vensonata

            I hope you are right, and in my more optimistic moments I might agree. There is little in the way of precise studies of this matter so for now we are just guessing. I myself am off grid for 15 years with a 11.4 kw PV array and a 40kwh battery, with back up such as propane hot water etc., so my knowledge is from practical experience. The lesson is: basically off grid has never been easier than it is in 2016. It will get easier every year from now on as well.

  • Hans

    By the way, did I mention that utilities should only manage the grid, and that power production and retail should be left to the free market?

    • Dave R

      For-profit utilities really should be disbanded in favor of non-profit co-ops.

      Generation can either be procured through co-ops or private companies as the co-op sees fit.

      Nothing is “free market”, so suggesting that the free market will solve all problems is short-sighted at best.

      • Hans

        I agree with you that free markets are not the ultimate solution to everything. The (neo-liberal) free markets ignore social costs and don’t care about the weak in society. However, a vertically integrated monopoly (commercial or non-commercial) is much worse. Such a monopoly will always find ways to sabotage competition by distributed power.

        The grid is a natural monopoly and should be completely separate from production and retail so that the grid operator has no incentive to sabotage distributed power production to protect its other interests.
        Such an independent grid operator will only be interested in the technical qualities of your PV system.

        The second most important thing is to have choice in your power retailer. A monopoly in retail also means the retailer can make up silly rules that prevent you from producing your own power. Even if the retailer is a co-op it will still do stuff like this. If there is competition you can just change to a retailer that has no problem with your PV system.

        It seems the US power sector has the worst possible combination of capitalism and communism: a state sanctioned vertical monopoly run by a commercial company with state guaranteed profits. In many European countries the (transmission) grid is already separate from production and retail, and it works.

        The system would work even better if there would be a proper price on carbon.

  • Hans

    Another possibility is that home owners remain connected to the grid and install small PV systems that are optimised for self consumption and never deliver to the grid. No extra monthly charge, no knock-off price for exported electricity, but only a reduction in the electricity bill.

    • vensonata

      The service charge to remain on grid will hit about $500 year by 2020. So if you are self consuming the service charge essentially makes your electricity that you actually use from the grid perhaps $1 kwh. There are cheaper, cleaner, and better ways to do it, since the Nevada grid is not clean electricity.

      • Hans

        To be clear I do not mean a PV system that on average does not export to the grid, I mean a system that would not export to the grid at any point in time. For the grid such a system just looks like demand reduction, not much different from a client using more efficient appliances, or being on holiday.

        If the additional service charge for PV systems owners would apply in this case it clearly shows (if it wasn’t clear already) that the measure has nothing to do with a fair accounting of the grid costs, but is only there to protect the utilities’ power retail monopoly.

        • Roland

          I believe the charge hits even if you don’t export power to the grid. So long as you have a PV system and are grid connected, you get charged.

          • Kevin Gregerson

            You don’t have to tell them you have a PV system.

          • Hans

            In a more recent comment Jerry writes that it is possible not to pay the additional fee if you also do not use the feed in tariff *

            *Since the payment for the electricity delivered to the grid now dropped below the consumer price it is not longer net metering.

    • Steve_R

      Why wouldn’t small systems face the increased monthly charge? Because they would be kept secret from the utility company?

    • TatuSaloranta

      If you are assuming that it should be easy and desirable to have to hide your solar system (to avoid higher base), you are probably wrong, depending on how regulations work in Nevada. In many states one has to either get a permit for installation and/or grid connection; but even if not, your contract with the utility would contain clause(s) where you promise to inform them.

      So, while it may be technically possible to disguise a deployment, it will violate your contract; and if found out, will lead to penalties.

      I also do not like the idea of having to actively lie — while it seems misguided and wrong to have different base rates for different customers, this should be fought without resorting to legal or contractual violations.

    • KenZ

      No. You cannot do that. It’s been made illegal by NV Energy Schedule Number: SSR (Small Standby Service Rider) which is an amendment to the residential service contract. It was issued 12/5/14 and is effective 1/1/15. It makes it illegal to get power from ANY other source if you get ANY power from NV Energy with the sole exception of a backup generator for use only during power outages. So you can NOT drop your solar to meet only your in-time demand, you can NOT store your excess in a battery and then use it at night, you can NOT do any other construct even if it doesn’t push a single electron onto the grid.

      The fact that this service rider was executed ‘just in time’ for the net metering change is more than suspicious. They snuck it through when it wouldn’t cause any lashback because there was net metering… and THEN they removed net metering.

      • Dave R

        Wow, how crazy is that?

        That is insane. You will effectively end up with people turning large portions of their house off-grid. In fact, it will probably be cheaper very soon to install solar + batteries + backup-generator than to stay with the utility.

        • KenZ

          Yeah, it’s nuts. I’m still re-reading it: it’s unclear if you’re also not allowed to have a completely separate micro grid or not. You definitely can’t if that micro grid CAN be connected to the grid with a transfer switch, but unclear if it’s totally islanded.

          I can’t see how the rider could possibly hold up in court. It’s got eminent domain and anti-competition/unfair monopoly issues.

        • John Moore

          It’s not insane at all. It’s just corrupt. Corporations just own our politicians. They have no fear of public backlash, whatsoever.
          And the American public just just can’t get enough of voting in Republicans as Governor. 32 out of 50.
          So at least this Republican is simply ripping off the public. In Michigan, they poisoned 100,000 people, then resisted calls to fix it. Now they are asking the American taxpayer for $750,000,000 to fix the lead that poisons their citizens.

          • Robert Burns

            This is not partisan, believe me. The crooks are indistinguishable by party.

          • Plantiful

            This was a bill that came from ALEC. They are trying this kind of thing in MA. Already failed once last year. They are trying again this year.

            Our government, state and federal, is completely corrupted by corporate money and control, people.

      • Hans

        This is equivalent twith having only one supermarket in town that forces you to sign a contract that forbids you to eat vegetables from your own garden.

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