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Nevada Solar advocates drop off 31,650 petitions at PUC on Dec 2nd (Read 3287 times)
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Nevada Solar advocates drop off 31,650 petitions at PUC on Dec 2nd
Dec 7th, 2015 at 1:49am
With less than a month remaining before the Public Utilities Commission decides the fate of rooftop solar in Nevada, renewable energy advocates continue to hammer their message in front of state regulators: Keep solar affordable for homeowners.

Workers from SolarCity, grassroots activists and local residents dropped off 31,650 petitions today at PUC to urge regulators to not add new fees or cut benefits for NV Energy customers participating in net metering, a policy that requires the power companies to pay rooftop solar customers for energy their panels provide to the grid.

After a public hearing, solar advocates scattered boxes of postcard-sized petitions across a table in the PUC’s hearing chambers. The cards had names of the customers and supporters asking the PUC to consider an alternative to an NV Energy-backed proposal that would cut the amount the utility pays to customers while adding charges to their monthly power bills.

NV Energy and other utility companies throughout the nation allege net metering forces the power company to shift a cost onto non-solar customers. The PUC’s three regulators will decide to implement NV Energy’s proposition or choose another solar cost framework by Jan. 1.


"It was very clear that if you are a lowly ratepayer, not represented by an attorney, you are unheard and overwhelmed. The many residents who prepared and gave comments at public meetings are not considered in the decision. Really? Oh, yes, here it is in the PUCN rules: “While comments are valuable, comments are not evidence and therefore cannot be considered by the commission when making a decision in a particular proceeding.” (NAC 703.491)"

It came as a shock to me that the utility expects no new rooftop solar after sometime in 2017. When an environmental attorney asked why, NV Energy’s director of renewable energy said the company assumed that by then, the cap — the Legislature’s limit on the number of rooftop solar systems allowed — would have been reached. NV Energy was to offer an incentive for customers who wanted to install systems on their roof. It appears the company believes people will not install solar without an incentive.

Questions from an attorney for a pro-solar group revealed that the cost study done by NV Energy, justifying the much higher rate, was rejected by the PUCN. So there seems to be no acceptable basis for increasing the rates for rooftop solar customers. There is still a decision to come on how much residential solar customers should have to pay. NV Energy attorneys often were very aggressive and at one point claimed that people with rooftop solar got value by feeling warm and fuzzy about being green. So there is a new fee for feeling good?

As the hearing was wrapping up, pro-solar attorneys said several legal issues had been raised. They explained that forcing customers to pay for what the utility may want installed later, such as a net-metering system, could violate law; that they doubted NV Energy had made its case for a rate increase; and that the proposed increases may not be consistent with the direction of the Legislature. They questioned whether a new rate can be imposed on one group of existing customers and whether demand charges can be imposed on residential rooftop solar customers that could make their rates higher than before they installed their systems. Cases challenging the imposition of such demand charges have been litigated in Wisconsin and Montana, and the decisions in both cases were in favor of the net-metered solar customers and against the public utility commissions that allowed them.


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« Last Edit: Dec 7th, 2015 at 2:04am by electron »  
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