Nevada regulator excludes 'grandfathering' provision in new net metering proposal

Dive Brief:

  • David Noble, a commissioner on the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN), has drafted a new proposal for net metering policy that does not include a grandfathering provision for existing rooftop solar users, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. 
  • The 124-page draft proposal wants to gradually move existing rooftop solar users onto the new rates approved in December over a period of 12 years rather than the original four. 
  • Under the proposal, both new and existing rooftop solar owners will see the monthly fixed charge and rate increases gradually implemented every three years instead of annually.
  • A hearing for the draft proposal is set on Friday, with 1,000 people expected to attend.

Dive Insight:

Nevadans are up-in-arms over what they see as unfair rate hikes on rooftop solar systems, a public agency that won't listen to them, and a dominant utility that has exerted undue influence over the proceedings. The escalating frustration among solar advocates has worried lawmakers and officials that Nevada's open-carry laws could entice some to carry firearms into the hearing. 

The new draft proposal revealed by the Noble earlier this week appears to have incorporated some of NV Energy's suggestions from their proposal in January, which did include a grandfathering provision for existing rooftop solar users over a period of 20 years as well as suggestions for a longer timeline to incorporate the new rates. 

Approved in December, the new net metering policy slashed the retail remuneration rate for net metering customers down to the wholesale rate, created a separate rate class for small commercial and residential solar users, and established a time-of-use pricing option for all customers that will be gradually implemented over four years. Regulators also approved an increase in fixed charges and a decrease in the volumetric commodity charge in order to better recoup costs from net metering customers.

Several provisions have sparked anger from the state's solar sector, including the controversial "grandfather" provision that incorporated 17,000 existing distributed solar users into the new rates and fees, along with the new users. Leading solar developers SolarCity and Sunrun ceased operations in the state shortly after the ruling, terminating more than 600 jobs. A group of rooftop solar customers also filed a class action lawsuit against NV Energy. 

The tension could bubble over as more than 1,000 people are expected to attend the hearing for the latest draft proposal by the PUCN. At least two people were spotted openly carring firearms during a protest, the news outlet reported. Three other individuals were barred from Wednesday's hearing since it was not a formal public hearing, Nevada General Counsel Lina Tanner told the news outlet. But all three said they planned to attend the meeting on Friday carrying firearms.

Tanner acknowledged the state's open carry laws and the Second Amendment, but said such a display during a potentially heated hearing could be seen as an effort to threaten or exert undue influence on regulators.

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