CARSON CITY — A new draft proposal from a state utility regulator posted Wednesday would not grandfather in existing rooftop solar customers under former, more favorable net metering rates despite NV Energy's recommendation that they be protected for 20 years.
Instead, the draft 124-page order from Nevada Public Utilities Commissioner David Noble would move existing rooftop solar customers into the new rates that took effect Jan. 1 over a period of 12 years rather than four years.
The monthly fixed charges and lower credits for excess energy generated from rooftop solar systems would be implemented for existing rooftop customers, but the hikes would be phased in every three years rather than every year.
While not clear in the draft order, which will be considered by the full commission on Friday, the longer phase-in for existing rooftop solar customers appears to apply to those who had systems installed or a valid application pending by Sept. 10, 2015.
All other rooftop solar customers would be subject to the new rates as approved by the PUC in December and that are now in effect.
The new rates have been criticized by rooftop solar companies who argue they will destroy net metering in Nevada moving forward. Some rooftop customers have complained of a "bait and switch" where they were promised a permanent, more lucrative benefit when they installed their multi-thousand dollar systems.
The meeting Friday could see as many as 1,000 people show up for the discussion.
The PUC adopted the new rates to ensure non-solar customers do not subsidize those with rooftop systems. The question of whether there is a subsidy remains in dispute.
Noble's draft order says that calculations by the rooftop solar group The Alliance for Solar Choice still show average savings of 33 percent on the electric utility bills of net metering customers after the full phase-in period.
"These rates reflect the cost of providing service to this class of ratepayers and are in line with how rates are set for all ratepayers," Noble's draft order says.