Nevada Senate clears bill to raise net metering export rates

Dive Brief:

  • The Nevada State Senate over the weekend voted unanimously to pass Assembly Bill 405 aimed at restoring net metering rates close to retail for rooftop solar customers following the state's 2015 decision to reduce compensation.
  • The legislation would raise export rates to 95% of the retail rate, though those rates would decline over time. Greentech Media reports the bill was amended to create tiers, dropping the export rate in increments for every 80 MW tranches deployed. Previously, the bill focused on peak-load limits.
  • The Nevada Assembly will need to approve the amended bill Monday, the last day of the state's legislative session. 

Dive Insight:

Things are coming down to the wire, but Nevada lawmakers appear poised to agree on a law that would raise solar export rates to a level close to the retail level that was in place when regulators ended net metering in 2015and declined to grandfather in existing contracts.

The Public Utilities Commission's stance has softened since then, after they approved a separate proposal to grandfather existing customers and restore retail net metering rates to customers in Sierra Pacific Power territory in northern Nevada. But those changes came only after significant national backlash: installers SolarCity and Sunrun halted operations in the state, and Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) declined to reappoint a pair of commissioners involved in the decision.

The Solar Energy Industries Association issued a statement after the Senate's vote, saying the measure "re-opens the residential solar market in the state, which had been all but frozen."

Sean Gallagher, SEIA’s vice president of state affairs, said the state is now "one step closer to a policy that will allow it to get back thousands of solar jobs that were lost. But he added that the bill "is a compromise that doesn’t fully value the benefits of distributed solar. It will, however, allow Nevada consumers and small businesses who may have wanted to go solar, but found it uneconomic under the existing solar policies, to now proceed."

Solar company Sunrun also issued a statement, calling for Sandoval to sign the measure. Vice President of Public Policy Alex McDonough called the vote "a victory hard won and a testament to the overwhelming support for rooftop solar." It's unclear whether the company will move back into the state if this bill is signed.

The governor is expected to sign the bill.

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