"Debate over Solar rates simmers in the Nevada desert" by Sam Weber, PBS NewsHour 2/27/2016
This post can also be a "Greed File" because of big-energy's concern of "a threat to their business model." NV Energy, hint, change your business model and not stick-it to solar customers.
With more than 300 days of sunshine a year, Nevada seems like the perfect place for Rooftop Solar.
And with the help of state and federal incentives, the amount of rooftop solar in the state has exploded, increasing by more than 400 percent from 2014 to 2015. But the future of the rooftop solar industry in this state is now very cloudy after a decision late last year by the state’s Public Utility Commission to change the rates for customers with solar panels.
At stake is a system known as “net metering,” which allows Rooftop Solar Customers to get credit for the excess energy they send back to the grid when it’s sunny.
Versions of ‘net metering’ are on the books in more than 40 states and the effect for many rooftop solar customers is a dramatically reduced electric bill. But in lowering their bill, utilities and regulators around the country have been trying to determine if solar customers are paying their fair share of the electric grid’s operating costs.
In Nevada, the Public Utility Commission ruled that there was a cost-shift from non-solar customers to solar customers.
“The customers who are participating in net metering were not sharing in the costs of the utility’s distributions and transmission system – the pipes and the wires that get the electricity to your home,” said Anne-Marie Cuneo, Staff Director of Regulatory Operations for the Nevada Public Utilities Commission.
In December, the Public Utility Commission increased the basic connection fee and reduced the value of the credit that homeowners receive for excess energy to help close the gap between non-solar and solar customers, which utility NV Energy calculated to be about $16 million a year.
Solar advocates say the change threatens the whole industry and many companies said they were moving operations out of the state, including SolarCity, which laid off 550 workers in January. Advocates argue that utilities have been pushing for changes in ‘net metering’ rules because they see solar as a threat to their business model.
“Solar is becoming real,” said Marco Krapels, Executive Vice President for Strategy and Structured Finance at Solar City. “The utility monopolies are saying, ‘well wait a minute, we’ve got to crush it before it gets too big.’ And that’s what’s happening now.”