Consumer advocates push back against NV Energy's proposal to raise fixed fees
- The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada this week heard testimony from customer advocates opposed to a proposal from the state's largest utility to raise fixed fees on non-solar residential customers.
- NV Energy has proposed raising fixed fees more than 30% from $12.75 per month to $16.76, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. But opponents say that gives customers less control over their bill and sends the wrong message.
- The changes are part of new rates the utility will develop in order to implement Nevada's new net metering tariffs, which were signed into law earlier this year.
NV Energy says it would not have made its proposal had the new net metering law not been signed. But in its application, the utility says the cost-based model should remain bill-neutral for customers.
Shawn Elicegui, senior vice president of customer operations for NV Energy, told Las Vegas Channel 8 News that "the average bill would stay the same" because the volumetric part of the bill changes to reflect the average bill.
But AARP Nevada Director Barry Gold told regulators the increase in charges would hit low-income and senior customers hardest. "Shifting more fixed costs on customers in the form of a higher monthly customer charge sends the wrong signal about electricity usage and is contrary to the policy to encourage energy conservation," he said in testimony Monday evening.
NV Energy filed its application in late July to comply with the new net metering rules after a protracted battle between the utility and solar interests. The debate led regulators to drastically cutting the net metering rates at the end of 2015 before restoring them close to retail rates this year.
Much of 2016 was spent reversing the decision, leading to the passage of Assembly Bill 405. The utility in its initial proposal following the bill's passage demanded a study of net metering impacts on all customers, in addition to an analysis on the need for maximum demand charges. But that proposal was essentially "dead on arrival," the utility said. Instead, the PUCN approved a draft order that set the rates in the tranche structure approved in the bill.
Under the new rates, rooftop solar customers will be compensated at 95% of the retail electricity rate for energy sent back to the grid. The credit declines overtime in 7% for every 80 MW of rooftop solar energy deployed until it reaches a floor rate at 75% of the retail rate.
A PUC hearing is scheduled for Oct. 4 to consider the new rate structure.
- Las Vegas Review-Journal Proposed NV Energy rate increase raises concern
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