Nevada net metering service charge hike announced

CARSON CITY — Net metering customers of Nevada Power will see their service charge climb to $17.90 a month on Friday from the current $12.75 under a new tariff submitted to state regulators for approval.

The monthly service charge will continue to ratchet up, reaching a rate of $38.51 by Jan. 1, 2020, according to the information provided to the Nevada Public Utilities Commission by the utility on Wednesday.

The Friday increase is a 40 percent jump over the current rate for rooftop solar customers of Nevada Power. Non-solar customers will continue to pay the $12.75 monthly fixed charge.

The new tariff, submitted for review and potential approval, also proposes new, lower credits for excess energy generated by rooftop solar customers. The current credit of about 11 cents per kilowatt hour would be reduced to about 9 cents on Friday, declining to 2.6 cents by Jan. 1, 2020.

The 2015 Legislature directed the PUC to establish a new, separate tariff for rooftop solar customers. Solar industry officials say the new rate will end the rooftop solar business in Nevada and have urged the PUC to reconsider its decision.

NV Enery has argued that nonsolar customers have been subsidizing those who have opted to install rooftop solar systems.

The new charges and credits were submitted as required by a Dec. 22 decision by the PUC establishing a new tariff for rooftop solar customers. Nevada Power is part of NV Energy.

A rooftop solar group called the Alliance for Solar Choice and the Nevada Consumer Protection Bureau have asked the commission to stay the new rate until they can submit petitions for reconsideration. A hearing on their motions is set for Jan. 7, with a decision expected by the full commission Jan. 13.

The new rate structure has proved controversial because it would include existing net metering customers going forward, despite the rate structure in place they relied on when deciding to install their systems.

The Dec. 22 order prompted one of the largest rooftop solar companies, SolarCity, to announce it would no longer sell or install systems in Nevada.

There are 14,832 interconnected net metering customers at Nevada Power Co. in Southern Nevada, and 2,423 customers with Sierra Pacific in Northern Nevada. Both companies are part of NV Energy.

The Southern Nevada Home Builders Association also filed a motion with the PUC in support of a stay until petitions for reconsideration are resolved.

In its filing, the builders group notes that applying the new rate to existing rooftop solar customers “raises serious legal, equitable, and policy issues.”

SolarCity said in a statement that it supports a delay in the implementation of the “very complex and confusing new solar rates.”

Dan Chia, director of policy and electricity markets at SolarCity, said: “The commission has serious questions to consider, including whether the contracts of Nevada’s over 17,000 existing solar customers will be impaired. Nevadan solar customers — families, businesses, schools, and public agencies — need more time to better understand how these new rules will impact their budgets.”

The Nevada Power filing can be viewed at the PUC website in Docket: 15-07041.

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Find him on Twitter: @seanw801

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