- Nevada's Technical Advisory Committee on Distributed Generation and Storage on Wednesday passed a resolution calling on regulators to grandfather existing rooftop solar customers into the state's previous solar rules for 25 years. The resolution would apply to residential customers who submitted solar applications before Dec. 31, 2015.
- The advisory group is part of Gov. Brian Sandoval's New Energy Industry Task Force, a group of utility, industry, solar and environmental interests that was set up earlier this year to address state energy issues after months of contentious debate over rooftop solar incentives.
- If approved by the entire Task Force, the grandfathering provision will be submitted to the governor, who will consider including it in an energy bill the administration plans to introduce for the state's next legislative session, in Feb. 2017.
At the end of 2015, Nevada utility regulators slashed net metering rates for rooftop solar customers, lowering the value of their credits from the retail rate of electricity to a level closer to the wholesale rate.
In an unprecedented move not yet seen in any other state, the regulators excluded a grandfathering provision for existing solar customers — cutting the value of their net metering credits despite many having contracts with solar installers that assumed the original retail rate credits.
That decision, which the PUC reaffirmed in February, spurred major solar installers to close up operations in the state. Existing solar owners and The Alliance for Solar Choice, an advocacy group, have both filed lawsuits challenging the ruling.
The controversy spurred Sandoval in January to convene the Task Force with the hopes of finding common ground not just on solar issues, but a litany of other energy policy matters as well. The deadline for the group to submit bill draft requests to the governor is June 1, Greentech Media reports, and any recommendations could find their way into a Sandoval-backed energy bill for the next legislative session.
Since Nevada's legislature meets every other year, the next session begins in Feb. 2017.
Beyond the grandfathering issue, the group was also tasked with devising an alternative solar incentive to net metering by Sept. 30.
Bring Back Solar, an advocacy group supported by major installers, welcomed the recommendation, saying in a statement it was "thankful for the leadership of the [distributed generation committee] for their vote to grandfather all current rooftop solar customers on the solar rules they signed up for."
"But righting this wrong doesn’t bring the solar industry back to Nevada," a spokesperson told Greentech Media. "We're looking forward to what the energy task force will propose around restoring solar rules that will bring the industry back."
Bring Back Solar is pushing a ballot proposal that would reinstate retail rate net metering for all solar customers, but it suffered a setback in March when a judge blocked the proposal from the November ballot. The group is appealing the decision and working through the legislature on an indirect ballot proposal.
NV Energy, the state's dominant utility, is fighting these efforts, backing a group that targeted the solar ballot measure in a statewide ad buy last month.
A recent report from the utility shows that only 30 rooftop solar applications were received in February and March of this year, down from over 1,300 the month before the PUC decision, the Review-Journal reports.