Bringing back solar — but how?
No sooner had the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada given its final word on net metering — that a special rate class with higher service charges and lower excess-energy reimbursements would include both old and new rooftop solar customers of NV Energy — than the No Solar Tax political action committee filed a referendum petition with the secretary of state’s office looking to repeal the law. Ever since, Bring Back Solar, as the alliance behind the referendum calls itself, has bombarded the airwaves with near-daily updates about groups joining in the fight: from the predictable Nevada Solar Owners Association, to the less-expected Conservatives for Energy Freedom, to the somewhat head-scratching League of Women Voters. (Who knew there was an Evangelical Environmental Network?)
But as our official newsroom survey confirms, people aren’t totally clear on what this referendum is all about. Here’s an explainer.
The No Solar Tax PAC was started by solar companies, including the high-profile SolarCity, which laid off some 550 people following the PUC’s first ruling on the matter in December. Great Basin Solar Coalition, made up of Northern Nevada solar contractors, is another member, and claims on its website to have written the referendum.
The Bring Back Solar Alliance is the name the PAC gave to the groups, such as those listed above, that back the referendum. They show their support by making financial contributions, volunteering and spreading the word.
You may have signed a Bring Back Solar Alliance petition, but it was not to get the proposed repeal put on the ballot in November. The 100,000 signatures the alliance says it gathered at shopping centers and presidential caucus locations show support for its cause; the ballot initiative, meanwhile, has been caught in a legal battle, and the alliance can’t gather signatures for it until that’s resolved (see below).
In February, the Citizens for Solar and Energy Fairness political action committee filed a lawsuit challenging No Solar Tax PAC’s referendum. A hearing set for Monday, March 28, is expected to determine whether the referendum can go forward as worded, meaning Bring Back Solar could then start collecting signatures to put it on the ballot in November.
“We expect to get over this minor procedural hurdle with no problem and start collecting signatures for the ballot initiative by Wednesday,” says Chandler Sherman, deputy campaign manager for the alliance.
Bring Back Solar needs at least 55,000 signatures for the ballot initiative to go forward. If it gets that many, then voters in November will be asked to give their thumbs up or down on the proposed repeal of the new net metering law.