Unanimous NPUC vote rejects grandfathering proposal; will move all solar customers to new rates
On Friday, Nevada’s utility regulator voted unanimously to require solar homes to move to a new rate structure, one which sparked angry responses from solar proponents calling maintain their previous rates.
The new rates will be phased in over 12 years for all customers with solar panels on rooftops. The solar industry had lobbied to have existing solar customers “grandfathered” under the current rates for at least 20 years.
In documents filed last week, NPUC staff said “the subsidy has become unreasonable,” adding that the 12-year approach would give solar owners ample time to adjust to the new rates.
The commission’s Friday vote is a slight improvement from its decision in December to reduce the compensation solar panel owners receive when they export power they do not use back to their local utility, a policy known as net metering. The December decision sparked intense criticism by solar supporters and has triggered solar installation companies Sunrun and SolarCity to announce they would abandon their state operations and lay off hundreds of employees.
Opponents of net metering, which include many utilities, argue that it shifts the costs of maintaining the grid onto customers who do not have solar panels, even though solar owners also use it.
NV Energy, the Nevada utility owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc, proposed a variety of options for existing solar customers in its public filings, ranging from gradual changes over four years to no changes for 20 years.
The commission “gave the monopoly utility more than it asked for,” said Lauren Randall, public policy manager for Sunrun. “This decision is clearly unjust and unacceptable for Nevadans. We will sue to overturn the anti-solar rules, and we will win.”
The status of a pending class-action lawsuit remains undetermined. NV Energy, the Nevada utility benefiting most from recent net metering changes made by the NPUC, will now be a defendant in a class-action lawsuit filed by two individual PV system owners.
The two plaintiffs, John Bamforth and Stanley Schone, argue that they would never have invested in their PV systems had they known Nevada’s net metering program would be scaled back as dramatically as it has been since December 23, 2015
Image: rooftop solar installation via Shutterstock
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