In a 38-2 vote, the Nevada State Assembly has passed a bill that aims to revive net energy metering (NEM) in the state. The bill, A.B.405, now goes to the state Senate for consideration, with about two weeks left in the 2017 legislative session.
Solar advocates and companies, including Sunworks Inc., have praised the passage of A.B.405. According to Sunworks, the new A.B.405 includes a “Solar Bill of Rights” provision, which reinstates NEM with a new system that uses a tiered approach for calculating the export rate of electricity based on the overall penetration of rooftop solar installations throughout the state. The bill restores NEM rates starting at 95% of the full retail rate for excess electricity produced by consumers, the company adds.
The inclusion of a NEM solution is considered a victory for rooftop solar businesses, which have experienced economic uncertainty for the last two years due to a combination of policy changes and reductions in NEM rates by the state Public Utilities Commission. The changes, which took effect in 2015, virtually ended NEM programs in Nevada and resulted in heavy job losses for those in the solar industry. With the passage of the modified A.B.405, Sunworks says rooftop owners will return to the existing rate classes of all other consumers, thereby protecting them from discriminatory rates, charges, and fees.
In addition, Sunworks says A.B.405 protects consumers from inaccurate public utility rates, minimum warranty requirements, and other contractual disclosure terms. The bill is intended to enhance consumers’ understanding of variables in their investment options and make clearer comparisons between products.
“We’re pleased with the passage of the revised bill,” comments Casey Coffman, Sunworks’ regional vice president of sales. “We believe the bill provides greater transparency for consumers and businesses and will enhance Nevada’s solar industry through a sensible rate structure and will lead to accelerated growth in solar-related jobs.”
Travis Miller, director of The Great Basin Solar Coalition, is part of an alliance of stakeholders from Northern Nevada who represent the state’s solar industry.
Miller says, “Consumers are now effectively grandfathered into the rate structure they originally enrolled into for the life of their system. In conjunction with ensuring consumer disclosures, this bill creates the stability required for Nevadans to make educated investments in clean energy solutions.”