Is NV Energy’s Grandfathering Proposal A ‘Bait And Switch’ For Solar Customers?

Posted by Joseph Bebon on February 02, 2016 2 Comments
Categories : Featured, Policy Watch

As promised, NV Energy submitted its proposal on Feb. 1 to grandfather in existing solar customers under previous net-metering rates in Nevada; however, critics in the solar industry argue the proposal isn’t what the utility recently promoted, and The Alliance for Solar Choice has declared the proposal a “bait and switch.”

At the end of last year, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) ruled to cut net-metering buyback rates and add higher fees for solar customers in the state. Several solar companies claimed the decision forced them to cut hundreds of jobs in Nevada, and local solar customers voiced anger that the changed rules apply to their existing installations, rather than just to new projects.

Amid increased scrutiny, NV Energy issued a press release last week saying the utility would “propose to allow existing net-energy metering customers to remain on old rules over a transition period as long as 20 years.”

Although the solar industry welcomed NV Energy’s announcement, the utility’s newly filed testimony contains what The Alliance for Solar Choice calls “drastic changes.” The utility has now officially proposed seven different options, with one seeking to implement the rate increases for existing solar customers in as little as four years. Granted, last week’s press release did use the phrase “as long as 20 years” instead of promising a full 20-year period, but it also did not specifically mention that NV Energy would submit the other options to the PUCN.

According to the alliance, only one option delays new charges for the full 20 years, and NV Energy discourages the commission from adopting it.

Furthermore, NV Energy proposes only to apply limited grandfathering to customers who installed solar before Sept. 10, 2015. The Alliance for Solar Choice says this directly contradicts NV Energy’s press release last week to recommend “that rooftop solar customers who installed systems prior to the PUCN’s orders [on Dec. 22, 2015] be allowed to remain on the old net-metering rules … [and] also recommend that customers who submitted valid applications prior to the PUCN’s order be provided the same opportunity.”

Speaking about NV Energy’s new proposal, Dale Matz, an independent contractor and North Las Vegas solar homeowner, says, “NV Energy dangled a carrot in front of its customers last week, but the monopoly isn’t actually committed to treating all Nevada homeowners fairly. Instead, this is simply a public-relations play.”

An NV Energy spokesperson has issued a statement regarding the proposal: “NV Energy’s Feb. 1 proposal seeks a balance for those who installed solar prior to the new net-metering rules and those without solar. The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada’s order provided a four-year transition for all net-metering customers. As we previously stated, our proposal includes a transition period for as long as 20 years and recommends for consideration additional transition options for various time frames, from four years to 16 years, for those net-metering customers who fell under the 235 MW cap.”

The Alliance for Solar Choice, itself, filed testimony on Feb. 1.

Bryan Miller, president of the alliance and Sunrun’s senior vice president of public policy and power markets, says, “Governor Sandoval’s commission should grandfather in all solar users permanently and overturn the entire anti-solar decision.”

Comments

  1. We all need to be realistic here. The public utilities are a business, selling a product, and they intend to make a profit. To them solar energy might be viewed as a competing product that threatens their market dominance. Especially when it is installed, managed and used by their customers. If there are any enlightened managers within their industry they perhaps see any alternative energy as a source they can use to reduce their own cost of production and therefore increase profits. I doubt they consider private power production very much differently than the alcohol industry would view bootleggers. There are some small distillers and craft brewers out there making a go of it, but eventually they will be consumed by the big corporations if they become too successful. I don’t think the power industry sees how they will profit from, or eventually take over the small private power producer.

    Of course there are ways that solar and other alternative energy products can enhance and improve the power grid and at the same time reduce the energy costs to users of energy. Especially in todays reality of terrorists infiltrating our country, waiting for a signal to disrupt our society. It should be obvious they will probably target our power grid. That is the simplest way to make a huge impact. This society runs on power. Depends on power. And, distributed power, wide spread installation of privately owned and operated power systems, would be an enormously more difficult target to attack. It is in the interest of power companies to nurture and encourage this type of development. They should be involved to make sure the power is indeed properly distributed and be more involved to verify the quality and durability of the systems.

    The myopic attempt to monopolize an industry for simple short term profit must stop. If local power boards and state management can’t see the need for organized planning with more intelligence than the simple pursuit of profit, then maybe it is time for the federal government to move.

  2. The NV public utility commission’s decision to cut buy-back rates & assess additional fees was tone deaf. It’s decision to make the rates retroactive was punitive. Any effort on NV Energy’s part to do anything other than it plainly stated is a bait & switch. Neither PUCN nor NVE should be allowed to succeed at either.

    The public utility business-model is antiquated. It wasn’t intended to function on a consumer level per se. If states legislature don’t adapt pubic utility commissions to also operate on a direct-to-consumer (as generator) basis, PUC’s, especially those whose members are appointed rather than elected, (like NV’s) can be expected to continue wielding a heavy & disproportionate hand.

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