Rooftop solar and distributed energy champions have advanced a ballot initiative to restore Nevada’s retail-rate net metering policy. However, they are facing legal challenges from a utility-backed PAC. Expect a vigorous courtroom battle.
To the shock of many net metering proponents, earlier this February, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission voted not to grandfather existing customers onto a new rooftop solar tariff. Solar companies argue the new rates are unfair to current solar customers and have made it impossible to attract new ones.
As a result, the No Solar Tax PAC, the political action committee spearheading the solar ballot initiative, announced it had secured the support of more than 90,000 residents.
But on February 12, Carson City–based attorney James Cavilia filed to create a separate PAC called Citizens for Solar and Energy Fairness in opposition to net metering programs. As expected, the PAC has filed a legal challenge to the pro-solar referendum.
Will the net metering challenge be resolved in the courtroom? If nothing else, a lot of time and money will be spent on this challenge.
To this end, Bob Greenlee, spokesperson for the Bring Back Solar Alliance, the organization supporting No Solar Tax PAC, has stated he was “disappointed but not surprised” by the “baseless” legal challenge.
On Wednesday, NV Energy told POLITICO that it is backing Citizens for Solar and Energy Fairness. NV Energy argued last year that retail-rate net metering results in an unfair subsidy for rooftop solar customers. Based on NV Energy figures, the PUC determined there was a $16 million annual cost shift onto non-solar ratepayers.
According to Greentech Media, Greenlee has said public support for the measure has spiked with knowledge of NV Energy’s opposition.
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval has said the PUC’s decision not to grandfather existing customers onto the new solar rates was disappointing.
“There are few more critical issues to Nevada’s future than clean and renewable energy,” Sandoval said in a statement. “Not only does this sector drive many economic development opportunities, but it also helps us improve the quality of life for many Nevadans by helping keep our air clean, water fresh, and allows us to explore our unlimited potential in the wealth of renewables Nevada has to offer.”
Image: Judge writing on legal documents via Shutterstock
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