Solar customers file lawsuit against NV Energy over new net metering rates
- Solar customers filed a class-action lawsuit against NV Energy last week in response to new rates imposed on rooftop solar users by the utility, Greentech Media reports.
- The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada approved new rates and increased fees on rooftop solar users in December 2015, reducing the value of credits solar customers receive for power their systems export back to the grid. The new policy controversially applies to both existing rooftop solar systems.
- Nevada’s Bureau of Consumer Protection and state lawmakers asked the PUCN to reconsider the new rates, and major solar installers like SolarCity and Sunrun have ceased operations in Nevada.
Two solar customers have filed a lawsuit against NV Energy, claiming the utility violated the Nevada Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Nevada Unfair Trade Practices Act.
The plaintiffs, represented by the law firms Morris Sullivan Lemkul & Pitegoff and Jolley Urga Woodbury and Little, accuse the utility of “anticompetitive actions, deceptive and unfair trade practices resulting in a restraint of trade, monopolization and maintenance of a monopoly over the electric utility in Nevada, price discrimination between different buyers, artificial price inflation, conspiracy to cause the aforementioned results through illegal means, and negligence," according to a court filing.
The lawsuit also claims that the state and NV Energy colluded to "unlawfully reduce incentives" to in order to stave off competition from solar developers, Greentech reports.
Anne-Marie Cuneo, director of regulatory operations at the PUCN denied that the net metering ruling was improperly influenced by NV Energy.
Cuneo told the PBS local affiliate KNPB that the accusation was "shameful."
Earlier this month, the PUCN denied requests to delay implementation of the controversial rates and increased fees. PUC Chair Paul Thomsen said while the Commission was saddened by layoffs in the solar sector attributed to the reforms, they were trying to arrive at a decision to "create a path forward" for rooftop solar users that treated all ratepayers equitably.
The new rates will increase the monthly charge for NV Energy customers who own solar from the $12.75 to $17.90 and decrease their volumetric rate from $0.111/kWh to $0.108/kWh.
The net metering credit for present and future solar owners would fall from $0.11/kWh to $0.09/kWh in the first year, and then to $0.026/kWh in 2020.
NV Energy rates will gradually reach $38.51 per month for the basic charge and a $0.099/kWh volumetric rate over four years.
The AP reports that petitions were filed earlier this month requesting extensive reconsideration of the new net metering rates. The next meeting of the Nevada PUC is slated for Jan. 25.
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