NV Energy has filed a proposed agreement with Nevada regulators that would "grandfather" 32,000 residential existing rooftop solar users, giving them access to retail rate net metering that was eliminated by a regulatory decision late last year.
The agreement, which needs to be approved by the state’s Public Utilities Commission, would allow those customers to receive retail rather than wholesale rates for the solar power they sell back to the utility over a period of 20 years.
The agreement, hammered out between NV Energy, regulatory staff, the Bureau of Consumer Protection and SolarCity, applies to customers who installed a rooftop solar system or had a valid application pending on or before Dec. 31, 2015.
Late last year, Nevada put in place a new net metering policy for rooftop solar that lowered the rate paid for solar power exported back to the grid to the wholesale rate, rather than the retail rate.
The new policy moved the net metering credit to $0.09/kWh from $0.11/kWh, eventually declining to $0.026/kWh by 2020. In an unprecedented move, regulators applied those rates to existing solar customers as well as new ones, despite that many existing solar contracts assumed retail rate remuneration.
The policy also made a new customer class for rooftop solar users, who will now be levied a charged a monthly fixed charge of $17.90, up from $12.75. The fixed charge will move up to $38.51 in four years as the volumetric rate falls to $0.099/kWh, from $0.108/kWh.
The utility, however, maintains it did not propose to exclude a grandfathering provision, and filed a proposal in February that would have reinstated retail rate incentives for existing customers. But regulators blocked the plan, approving a decision from Commissioner David Noble, who authored the original ruling, that denied the grandfathering provision.
But in July, Utility Dive broke the news that Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) wanted a "new direction" for the PUC, and would not reappoint Noble at the end of his term this year.
The same week, NV Energy filed a revised grandfathering proposal with regulators. Shortly after that the state's Bureau of Consumer Protection withdrew its request for a hearing on the matter.
Gov. Sandoval, who earlier this year convened parities in a New Energy Task Force to resolve net metering and other issues, praised the parties for coming together.
"I am hopeful that the PUC will act quickly on this agreement," he said in a statement. "It is time to move on.”