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Solar Decision A Rooftop Relief -- At Least Until End Of Year


A decision by the Public Utilities Commission keeps current rates for rooftop solar in place.

A decision by the state Public Utilities Commission means people who want to install rooftop can still do so and receive credit for over-producing electricity -- at least until December 31.

That's the deadline date for the commission to come up with new rules to guide the rooftop solar industry. Bryan Miller, president of the Alliance for Solar Choice, said the state commission is likely to determine terms and rates for rooftop solar energy producers.

Miller told KNPR's State of Nevada that if rooftop solar doesn’t stay affordable customers won’t use it. He said most people choose it not for environmental reasons but because it can save them money on their energy bill.

However, NV Energy is proposing a tariff on solar power users. The company says without a fee the cost of maintaining the power infrastructure is pushed onto non-solar users.

The solar industry disagrees with that idea. Miller said not only does rooftop solar not cost non-solar customers more money, it is actually a benefit, citing a report by the PUC.  

“The commission found the direct opposite,” Miller said. “They found rooftop solar provides benefits for everyone.”

Miller also said the fee NV Energy proposed wouldn’t actually go towards offsetting costs but would be used to improve the company’s bottom line.

NV Energy declined an invitation to talk but issued the following statement: 

"While the interim rate approved today was not what the company proposed, we supported Senate Bill 374 along with the rooftop solar industry, which determined that the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada is the appropriate body 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."

Miller said what the power company did propose “was so complicated I don’t think anyone understands their proposal.”

Ultimately, Miller believes NV Energy wants to eliminate the rooftop solar industry completely.

“By NV Energy’s own admission, in that filing, they said it would have eliminated all savings for rooftop solar customers, which is the same thing as eliminating the solar market,” Miller said. “That’s why the proposed it their intent was to eliminate the solar market.”

It is an accusation that NV Energy has denied.

During an interview earlier this month on KNPR’s State of Nevada, a representative of the company said it was “pro-solar” and there is nothing in its proposal to stifle solar.

Bryan Miller, president, Alliance for Solar Choice

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.