Nevada Legislature clears bills raising net metering rates, RPS mandate

Dive Brief:

  • Nevada lawmakers have approved a few clean energy bills to advance access to clean energy, including measures aimed at boosting the value of rooftop solar, while increasing the state's renewable energy goals.
  • Assembly Bill 405, approved unanimously over the weekend by the Senate, would restoring net metering rates close to retail for rooftop solar customers following the state's 2015 decision to reduce compensation.
  • Assembly Bill 206 increases Nevada’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 40% by 2030, up from the current 25% by 2025 goal. Greentech Media noted the measure was amended to allow energy storage to meet 10% of the goal

Dive Insight:

Clean energy advocates are hailing several pieces of legislation that will help turn around Nevada's image as being unfriendly to renewable energy.

“In Nevada and across the country, overwhelming majorities of Republican and Democratic voters alike want more solar powering their communities," Jessica Scott, Interior West director for Vote Solar, said in a statement. The group urged Gov. Brian Sandoval to sign both bills, along with another to establish a new statewide community solar program.

The Silver State has been at odds with the solar industry since late 2015, more particularly the rooftop solar industry, when regulators reduced net metering competitionand took things a step further by declining to grandfather in existing contracts.

The Public Utilities Commission's stance has softened since then by approving a grandfathering clause and partially restoring retail rate net metering to customers, but AB 405 would bring certainty to the industry. The legislation would raise export rates to 95% of the retail rate, though those rates would decline over time. An earlier proposal focused on peak-load limits to the program, but it was amended to create tiers, dropping the export rate in increments for every 80 MW tranches deployed.

Residential installation companies Sunrun and SolarCity both exited the state after the 2015 decision, but Reuters reported Tesla and Sunrun will resume sales in the state once Gov. Sandoval signs AB 405. 

Sunrun CEO Lynn Jurich said in a statement that the legislature's work is "a reflection of overwhelming public demand for affordable, clean energy options ... we can now say with confidence that Sunrun is coming back to Nevada.”

On another front, raising the RPS mandate also encourages renewable energy and storage development. 

An earlier version of AB 206 would have set the state's renewable mandate at 80% clean energy by 2040, with an interim goal of 50% by 2030, but the more aggressive targets were eventually scaled back. Greentech Media reports there were much smaller changes made to the bill just before being passed: Along with the support for energy storage, multipliers were established for certain resources including 1.5 for geothermal and 2.0 for storage.

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Filed Under: Solar & Renewables
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