NV Energy proposes residential green rider program as rooftop solar alternative
- Major Nevada utility NV Energy filed a proposal for a voluntary, subscription-based solar program for residential customers with an initial capacity of 7.33 MW.
- The program, called a solar-pricing rider, would allow residential customers to subscribe to blocks of renewable energy that align with their load profile. Each block is composed of 100 kWh and would cost about $2 on the average monthly bill.
- The program grew out of contracts the utility signed with Apple and Boulder City, Nevada, which allocated 5 MW and 10 MW respectively of the projects to the subscriber program.
As rooftop solar increases in popularity across the nation, utilities are exploring ways to access the market so far dominated by third party installers like SolarCity and Sunrun.
Typically, they look to meet that need through community solar programs or utility-owned rooftop solar pilots, as have been approved in Arizona.
NV Energy appears to be expanding on the trend with its solar-pricing rider. Typically aimed at larger commercial and industrial customers, renewable energy riders apply a charge for procured wind and solar energy to customers' bills, allowing them to purchase clean power from a central array, rather than building one themselves.
NV Energy's Green Rider program is a primary example of this type of program. Now the utility is poised to offer something similar to its residential ratepayers.
NV Energy expects that the program will be filled in 12 months, with 12,000 participants expected to subscribe to two 100 KWh blocks, according to the filing. Customers do not have to commit to a lengthy contract to participate, "avoiding long-term commitments, term commitments or a significant investment of funds in order to support renewable energy."
The utility expects the 100 kWh blocks of solar power will cost about $2 on the average residential customer's bill, making it "one of the lower-cost programs of this type in the nation."
"For example," the company wrote in a release, "if a customer in an apartment using 600 kWh a month desired to be 100% 'green,' they would subscribe to 6 blocks for a monthly premium of $12, plus applicable taxes and fees."
While residential customers get first dibs at the program, NV Energy hopes to open it up to small to medium commercial and industrial customers. If it is approved by regulators, NV Energy plans to introduce the program first to ratepayers under its Nevada Power subsidiary, and subsequently its Sierra Pacific Power service territory.
Follow Krysti Shallenberger on Twitter