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Motions on rooftop solar rates to be considered Jan. 13

CARSON CITY — Motions filed with state regulators seeking to stay a new rate for residential net metering customers set to take effect Friday are expected to be considered at a hearing Jan. 7 conducted by PUC Commissioner David Noble. In the meantime, the new rate is expected to take effect on or within a few days of the implementation date Friday.

Following the hearing, Noble will submit a draft order to the full Public Utilities Commission for consideration at its meeting Jan. 13.

Noble filed a procedural order Monday expediting the consideration of the motions filed by the Alliance for Solar Choice and the state Consumer Protection Bureau so their issues can be reviewed at the Jan. 7 hearing. But the full commission is required to consider the motions, which cannot happen until the meeting in mid-January.

The commission’s order establishing the new tariff gave NV Energy a week to submit information on what the rates will look like. That information will be submitted to the commission by Wednesday. Its decision established a new, higher, fixed monthly charge for rooftop solar customers. It also provides for a credit for excess energy generated by rooftop systems based on lower wholesale prices than the current 11 cents per kilowatt hour.

Rooftop solar companies say the new rate could mean the end of net metering in Nevada and want the order reconsidered.

Many current net metering customers who would be included in the new tariff are also upset and are expressing their concerns to Gov. Brian Sandoval and the commission.

The request by the alliance said the commission’s decision on the new rate structure approved unanimously Dec. 22 “imposes unprecedented, dramatic and untested changes.”

“Customers have never sold or delivered service under it,” the petition said. “Indeed, Nevada’s customers and providers have yet to see exactly what the structure looks like.”

The alliance’s petition says that the substantial changes to the rules will require providers to re-evaluate their business models and customers with rooftop solar will have to reconsider the economics of their investment that may be completely upended.

“As reflected in the statements and actions of the providers in the days since the issuance of the order, it is doubtful that a future even exists for providers or customers in Nevada,” the petition said.

The proposed rate structure has proved controversial because it would include existing net metering customers going forward despite the rate structure currently in place under which they opted to install their systems.

The order prompted one of the largest rooftop solar companies, SolarCity, to announce last week it no longer would sell or install systems in Nevada, resulting in the loss of jobs.

Both the Consumer Protection Bureau and the alliance are asking for expedited action on their requests for a stay.

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.

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

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