Nev. regulators extend net metering in win for Reid

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, August 28, 2015

Nevada regulators have extended their net metering policy through the end of the year, drawing immediate praise from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and temporarily quelling a disagreement between the state’s dominant utility and a burgeoning solar industry.

The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada voted 3-0 yesterday to approve a measure requiring NV Energy to provide the same net metering rates and credits for rooftop solar customers throughout the rest of the year.

The agency’s decision was seen as a reprieve for Silver State solar advocates concerned about rate treatments disintegrating after the state hit its limit on the number of customers allowed to participate in the program, and the state’s largest utility, NV Energy, proposed changes that would reduce the value of the credits.

NV Energy last week said the state had reached the cap on net metering months sooner than expected, throwing into doubt the future of Nevada’s popular rooftop solar program. Solar interests protested, noting that NV Energy had told lawmakers last spring that the cap wouldn’t be met until next year.

Ultimately, the PUC decided to keep current net metering rates in place. The commission could vote in early December to change the policy, PUC spokesman Peter Kostes said.

Reid, who blasted NV Energy at his annual Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas this week for proposing an alternative rate, said keeping the net metering policies intact would allow Nevadans to continue installing rooftop solar panels (Greenwire, Aug. 25).

“As the commission works with NV Energy, solar installers and other stakeholders to come up with a new net metering policy this year, I urge all parties to work toward empowering consumers and maximizing the value of Nevada’s enormous renewable energy resources,” Reid said.

While acknowledging that NV Energy has “done some really good things” since its 2013 acquisition by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, Reid nonetheless said that on rooftop solar, the company needs to “get real, understand that there’s a new world out there” (Greenwire, Aug. 25).

The Nevada net metering fight mirrors similar debates over rooftop solar playing out in other states around the country but has drawn close scrutiny given the Silver State’s role as the epicenter of the solar boom.

NV Energy in a statement said that the interim rate was not what the company proposed, but that it supported the bill — Senate Bill 374 — that granted the PUC authority to define future net metering rules and rates.

“As we have said from the beginning, we support cost competitive renewable energy in all forms, and will continue to work with stakeholders through this interim period to ensure Nevada retains its leadership position in the development of renewable energy,” the utility said.