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NV Energy files to grandfather in some rooftop solar customers

CARSON CITY — NV Energy on Wednesday filed with state utility regulators to grandfather eligible private net metering customers who installed systems or who had approved applications pending by Dec. 31, 2015, in under the original more generous rates.

The proposal filed with the Nevada Public Utilities Commission would protect this group of rooftop solar customers for 20 years.

The proposal is similar to a bill draft request proposed for submission to the 2017 Legislature by Gov. Brian Sandoval’s New Energy Industry Task Force. But PUC action could come more quickly than waiting for the Legislature to act.

NV Energy, which does business as Nevada Power in Southern Nevada, has asked the PUC to act within 90 days. Utility regulators previously rejected a proposal to grandfather in existing net metering customers under the rates that existed prior to Jan. 1 of this year.

The filing comes just days before the Nevada Supreme Court considers arguments over whether a ballot referendum to restore net metering to its original rates for all current and future customers is eligible for the November general election ballot.

Question 5 was qualified for the ballot by a coalition of rooftop solar companies, including SolarCity. But the court must decide if the measure qualifies as a referendum that should be on the Nov. 8 ballot.

“After a number of recent failed attempts to negotiate a resolution of this grandfathering issue with out-of- state private solar suppliers, it became clear that NV Energy needed to step up and act alone,” said Paul Caudill, president and CEO of NV Energy. “I have spoken with many of these net metering customers personally, and understand and empathize with their concern. We simply did not want to wait any longer to offer a solution on their behalf and believe our filing today represents the most efficient and timely way to do that.”

NV Energy, rooftop solar companies and others supported the grandfathering proposal made to the PUC earlier this year.

In an NV Energy statement announcing the filing, Kevin Geraghty, senior vice president of energy supply, criticized the rooftop solar companies for not fully explaining to customers that their rates could increase.

New rates took effect Jan. 1 for all net metering customers, generating an outcry from customers who installed systems thinking that they were locked in under the more favorable rules.

There are about 30,000 net metering customers statewide who receive a credit for excess electricity their rooftop systems generate.

“It seems that they created uncertainty for customers who purchased or leased a rooftop system by not clearly communicating that their rates were subject to change in future regulatory proceedings,” Geraghty said. “Many of these net metering customers entered into 20-year leases believing that they would be locked into a rate, and that they would save money because NV Energy rates would increase every year. Neither of these sales pitches are true.”

“We feel strongly that this grandfathering proposal is the most effective way to implement the recommendation previously made by NV Energy and that of the New Energy Industry Task Force,” Caudill said. “The proposal is simple and fair.”

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Find him on Twitter: @seanw801

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