TASC sues Nevada PUC to overturn net metering decision

Dive Brief:

  • The battle over rooftop solar in Nevada is heading to the courts after solar lobbying group The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) filed suit against the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) on Friday last week, the Las Vegas Sun reports. 
  • TASC's lawsuit seeks to overturn the PUC's recent decision lower net metering rates and increase fixed charges. Notably, the decision also moved existing rooftop solar customers onto the new rates.
  • The lawsuit alleges the decision by the PUC to lower the remuneration rate and refusal to keep existing rooftop solar users on their original rates is a "big win" for utility NV Energy and comes at the expense of solar companies and their customers, the news outlet reported. 

Dive Insight:

The turmoil over the recent net metering changes in Nevada is escalating after TASC followed through on its threat to sue the PUC. 

According to TASC, the PUC ruling “puts a stake in the heart of future rooftop solar development," as evidenced by the exit of three major rooftop solar developers, including SolarCity and Sunrun. 

The new net metering policy slashed the remuneration rate for from the retail rate 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 grid upkeep costs from net metering customers.

After swift backlash from solar advocates in the state, the PUCN voted to keep their revised net metering policy in February but made a concession to gradually implement the new rates and fixed charge increases over a period of 12 years instead of four — raising monthly fixed charges from $12.75 to $38.51 by 2028. Extending the timeline for implementation was part of NV Energy's new proposal, which included a grandfathering provision for existing rooftop solar owners over a period of 20 years. 

Several aspects of the PUC's decision have sparked anger from the state's solar sector, including the controversial absence of a "grandfather" provision that incorporated 17,000 existing distributed solar users into the new rates and fees, along with new users. The absence of a grandfather provision was the first time that has occurred in a net metering decision in the U.S. Leading solar developers SolarCity and Sunrun ceased operations in the state shortly after the initial ruling in December, terminating more than 600 jobs. A group of rooftop solar customers has also filed a class action lawsuit against NV Energy. 

Commissioner David Noble defended the PUC's decision at the Arizona Energy Conference last week, saying the turmoil and backlash stunned him. "In 19 years with the commission, I've never seen anything quite like it," Noble told the audience.

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Filed Under: Regulation & Policy
Top image credit: jfantenb