Bombard Electric electrical experts Frank Cudia and Tina Long, on the roofing system, and Debbie Long install photovoltaic panels on a home in Las Vegas.
Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015|1:55 p.m.
CARSON CITY– Supporters for rooftop solar setups are accusing NV Energy of attempting to kill their industry with a brand-new set of proposed rates for net metering customers– those who have photovoltaic panels at home and sell excess energy back to the utility.
Agents from The Alliance for Solar Option state the proposition submitted late last week might mean clients would not minimize utility costs when they set up photovoltaic panels, when the expense of setting up and leasing the panels is factored in.
“This is extreme and unmatched. This proposal could get rid of all cost savings for solar customers,” stated Lauren Randall, a spokeswoman for the alliance, whose members include huge rooftop solar business. “This eliminates the solar market that employs 6,000 individuals.”
The almost 500-page proposal belongs to a compromise reached by the Nevada Legislature this spring over the state’s cap on net metering. The arrangement requires the Nevada Public Utilities Commission to adopt brand-new policies and rates for net metering that will apply to solar clients who sign up after the cap is reached.
The proposed rate system would keep solar clients’ energy expenses about 33 percent lower than traditional customer bills, according to the filing. That’s not as deep a discount rate as the 52 percent solar clients save now, but NV Energy said it better reflects the actual expenses of solar customers using the utility business’s facilities.
NV Energy said that while solar clients might utilize less energy, the business still should keep costly transmission lines and power plants at the ready for solar consumers during the night or when a cloud passes overhead.
“No roof solar client really leaves (the grid),” stated Kevin Geraghty, NV Energy’s vice president of energy supply. “On days when their system isn’t really working, our clients expect perfection.”
The energy business also said the existing net metering structure passes costs from solar clients to traditional consumers, in part due to the fact that the price of solar energy is falling. It’s now less costly for NV Energy to purchase power from large solar plants than clients with rooftop systems.
2 new solar plants in the works will certainly produce 200 MW of energy for NV Energy at an expense of about 4 cents per kilowatt, while NV Energy is required to buy back 235 MW of power from all rooftop systems in Nevada at triple the expense– 12 cents a kilowatt.
“Utility-grade solar is a better deal,” Geraghty stated.
The PUC has until completion of the year to embrace a new rate structure, and is arranged to fulfill next week to determine what should take place if the state reaches the net metering cap prior to the new guidelines remain in location. Solar supporters have prepared a protest Thursday outside NV Energy head office to bring attention to their issues, and are appealing to Gov. Brian Sandoval, saying he has to lead and save jobs.
“The PUC is selected by Sandoval. He’s ultimately responsible for exactly what occurs at the PUC,” Randall stated.
That’s a point Sandoval’s office differs with.
“The Public Utilities Commission is a separate, independent entity from the workplace of the guv,” Sandoval spokeswoman Mari St. Martin said. “The governor’s office can not dictate the timeline by which the PUC acts nor are decisions issued by the PUC topic to the guv’s approval or testimonial.”
At the same time, Geraghty said he had no doubt rooftop solar companies can find a practical business design under the proposed rates, specifically as the cost of solar panels falls. He said the existing web metering structure and cap were implied to nurture the solar industry in its infancy but aren’t sustainable in the long run.
“They’re taking advantage of that subsidy,” Geraghty stated, while the new rates would be “consuming into their margins.”
“The fact of the matter is, this market is up on its own legs,” he said.