Greens, solar advocates appeal Nevada net metering decision

Dive Brief:

  • Environmental advocates Vote Solar and Earthjustice last week requested a judicial review over two orders regarding net metering by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada that cut retail rates, excluded a grandfathering provision for existing solar users and increased fixed charges, PV Tech reports. 
  • But in September, the PUCN approved a compromise proposal from incumbent utility NV Energy and leading rooftop solar developer SolarCity to grandfather in 32,000 existing distributed solar users under the old rates for 20 years. 
  • The PUCN decision followed another September decision from the Carson City district court to reverse the controversial net metering rules for customers who already invested in solar, but left in place restrictions on new accounts. 

Dive Insight:

Solar advocates continue their full assault on last year's unanimous and unpopular decision by the Public Utilities Commission to end net metering. 

The groups argue the decisions were constitutional violations for solar owners, and violated Nevada law requiring utilities to offer NEM.

“We have a strong legal case for reversing the decision for future solar customers and look forward to having a full discussion of the facts at the Supreme Court," Vote Solar Interior West Regional Director Jessica Scott said in a statement.

Advocates say the commission's decision last year has halted investment in the solar industry and set off job losses as homeowner interest in panels declined with incentives. According to Vote Solar, a poll that it helped conduct showed more than 80% of Nevada residents want the net metering rules reversed.

Last year's decision spurred two developers, SolarCity and Sunrun, to exit the state. But shortly after a court decision that found the PUCN's order "a denial of fairness and due process through inadequate notice," the PUCN approved a grandfathering proposal from NV Energy and SolarCity. 

Even as the PUCN approved the grandfathering proposal, the state is looking at more comprehensive rate reforms, and net energy metering under Gov. Brian Sandoval (R)'s New Energy Task Force.  The task force issued a draft recommendation in September that included a push for lawmakers to pass a bill reinstating retail rate net metering for solar customers. But that would be a temporary measure while regulators conclude a comprehensive Value of Solar investigation. 

The proposal also recommended the state reopen planning for the Clean Power Plan, consider bills to authorize a "minimum billing structure" for solar customers and require that utilities include energy storage and distributed resources in their generation and grid planning processes.

The groups say they expect a court decision in 2017.

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Filed Under: Solar & Renewables Regulation & Policy
Top image credit: Wikimedia; Adam Kliczek