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Assembly panel OKs net-metering compromise

CARSON CITY — A compromise measure meant to ensure that Nevada’s rooftop solar industry continues to grow while protecting utility customers who do not participate in net metering won approval Monday in an Assembly committee.

Senate Bill 374 would send the net metering issue, where rooftop solar customers get a credit for excess energy produced by their installations, to the Public Utilities Commission.

The bill as amended was approved by the Assembly Commerce and Labor Committee.

The Nevada PUC would be required to set a separate rate class for rooftop-solar customers to account for their use of a utility’s infrastructure with the intent being to ensure that customers who do not have rooftop solar do not subsidize those who do.

The bill is a compromise to resolve the net metering issue. There is currently a 3 percent cap on the amount of net metering allowed in Nevada. The rooftop solar industry wanted the Legislature to increase the cap, but the measure would instead have the PUC create a regulatory structure where rooftop solar remained economically viable without any subsidy from non-net metering customers.

The PUC would be tasked with establishing the new rate structure by Dec. 31.

Rooftop solar companies were concerned the 3 percent cap, which would be translated to 235 megawatts in the bill, would be reached before the new rate structure was approved, leading to a stall in the industry.

The committee was told that as of May 18, about 146 megawatts of net metering had been approved, leaving room for growth in the existing program until the new structure takes effect.

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