Two Las Vegas residents, John Bamforth and Stanley Schone, have filed a class action lawsuit against Nevada Power Co., a part of NV Energy, over the Nevada Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) move to eliminate retail-rate net metering for both new and existing solar customers in the state.
The lawsuit, filed on Jan. 12 in Clark County District Court, alleges that NV Energy ‘conspired to unlawfully reduce the incentives provided via the Solar Program, increasing base rates or service charges only for solar customers in order to reduce competition and increase their own revenues.’
Specifically, the charge seeks restitution for ‘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 the lawsuit, net metering customers are looking at a 40% increase in their base rate or service charge, jumping from $12.75 to $17.90. These increases are scheduled to continue until Jan. 1, 2020, when the rate will have reached $38.51. The rate applies to all rooftop solar customers regardless of when their systems were installed.
The rate schedule also reduces the amount of credits for excess energy that customers can receive from about $0.11/kWh to $0.09/kWh. These rates will continue to decrease until Jan. 1, 2020, when the credits will be capped at a measly $0.026.
The plaintiffs contend that the utility provided false and/or incomplete information to the PUC on the net metering matter. Further, they claim that they would not have invested in their PV systems if they were aware that they would not receive the promised rebates, discounts and rates.
As previously reported, the PUC’s ruling has been met with immense opposition from the start and even forced SolarCity, Sunrun and Vivint, three of the largest solar companies in the country, to cease operations and sales in the state of Nevada.
Last week, the PUC rejected a request to stay the new rate until the regulation and all of its effects could be fully considered.