Nevada utility backs legal challenge to solar ballot initiative to restore retail net metering
- The battle over net metering rates in Nevada continues to rage, with NV Energy now backing a new political action committee that is challenging a referendum to restore retail net metering paid to rooftop solar customers, Greentech Media reports.
- Earlier this month, state regulators refused to grandfather existing solar customers into original net metering rates. Both new and existing customers will receive the lower wholesale rate, instead of the retail rate.
- The impact of last year's decision is already showing, reports Greentech Media,with applications between December and January falling more than 90% as three major solar developers left the state during and after the net metering fray.
Utility advocates continue to put up roadblocks in Nevada. NV Energy confirmed to Politico last week it is supporting a new PAC, Citizens for Solar and Energy Fairness, which has filed a lawsuit challenging a referendum put forth by solar advocates.
Last year, regulators approved a policy that cut 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.
Earlier this month, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada voted to keep their revised net metering policy with the exception of one concession, which would gradually implement the new rates and fixed charge increases over a period of 12 years instead of four — raising them from $12.75 to $38.51 by 2028.
Solar advocates at the Bring Back Solar Alliance have responded by pushing for a referendum in November, to revert the rates back to the higher level. And Greentech Media reports the No Solar Tax PAC,which has shepherding the referendum initiative, has about 90,000 people pledging to support the measure.
The case has drawn high profile attention. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, now thought to be a potential nominee to the Supreme Court, issued a statement indicating he wasn't happy with how state regulators had voted. “While I have respected the Commission and its deliberations by not influencing its process, the PUC did not reach the outcome I had hoped for...Today's decision does not go far enough to protect their interests," he wrote.
The debate has been tense, at one point including armed observers and calls for civil debate from Sandoval. Heightened security measures were present at the hearing, following low-level threats, the news outlet reported. Following the commission's decision December, Utility Dive reported that aggressive solar lobbying tactics may have alienated regulators during debate on the solar remuneration rates.
The court must make a decision by the end of March, on whether the solar ballot initiative can move forward.
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