Nevada PUC considering rates for net metering customers

The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) is considering a draft order proposed by Commissioner David Noble implementing new rates for NV Energy customers who participate in net energy metering.

Noble led hearings on the matter in November and the PUCN was scheduled to take up the matter at its Dec. 22 meeting.

During the past legislative session, the Nevada Legislature passed Senate Bill 374, directing the commission to examine rates applicable to net metering customers and to identify and eliminate any “unreasonable shifts in costs from net metering customers to other customers,” the PUCN said in a news release.

The legislation set a Dec. 31 deadline for the commission to approve new rates, which would take effect Jan. 1, 2016.

The draft order calls for transition of all small commercial and residential net metering customers to a cost-based rate structure over the next four years designed to eliminate cost shifts between ratepayers – without resulting in any additional profits for NV Energy. NV Energy is a Berkshire Hathaway Energy company.

If the draft order is adopted by the three-member PUCN, NV Energy will calculate the exact amounts of the rates based on PUCN instructions. The new rates will be filed with the commission for final review within seven days of the effective draft order.

The draft order finds that under existing rates costs are being shifted away from net metering customers to other ratepayers; resulting in non-net metering customers paying higher rates to compensate for the reduced collection of revenue.

The annual subsidy associated with the cost shift is roughly $623 for each residential net metering customer in southern Nevada and $471 for each residential net metering customer in northern Nevada, according to the draft order.

The case involves Docket Nos. 15-07041 and 15-07042.

Information about the draft order can be found on the PUCN website at www.puc.nv.gov.

SolarCity claims move would undermine rooftop solar

Non-utility solar energy provider SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY) said the order, if adopted, would deal a major blow to the state’s growing embrace of rooftop solar technology.

“If the Nevada Public Utilities Commission’s proposed decision is accepted tomorrow it will destroy the rooftop solar industry in one of the states with the most sunshine,” said SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive “There is so much wrong with the decision, the only option for the PUC is to reject it. The one beneficiary of this decision would be NV Energy, whose monopoly will have been protected. The people will have lost choice, jobs, and faith in their government,” Rive said.

“The decision would retroactively sabotage the investments Nevadans have already made in solar, even though they were encouraged by their government to make those investments,” Rive added.

The SolarCity CEO went on to say that his company might be forced to cease sales and installation in Nevada.

Vivint Solar (NYSE:VSLR) CEO, Greg Butterfield also blasted the proposed order.

“If the Nevada Public Utilities Commission accepts this decision, the state of Nevada will lose jobs, economic output, and consumer choice, while protecting the interests of an entrenched monopoly, NV Energy, and its out-of-state owner Berkshire Hathaway Energy,” Butterfield said.

An analysis by the Bernstein Research firm concluded that the draft order, if adopted as written, “would severely damage the distributed solar market in the state.”

The commission’s draft order would not grandfather the net energy metering arrangements enjoyed by existing NEM customers, but rather subject these customer-generators to the new tariff and rates created by the decision, Bernstein said.

Bernstein Research said the Nevada draft order comes after a similar, “if far less draconian order by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission.”

 

 

 

 

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.