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EDITORIAL: Rooftop solar must pay its way

Last week, the Public Utilities Commission completed three days of hearings on net metering, which provides electricity customers who have rooftop panels with credits for excess solar power they don’t use. Within a couple of weeks, the PUC will decide how much those credits will be worth going forward.

Saying solar had a sweet deal to get the industry rolling is an insult to sugar. For years, solar panel owners received federal tax credits for installing the devices, then received above-market rates for their surplus electricity. The solar industry wants to keep this gravy train rolling. Without subsidies, the whole shebang won’t pencil out.

The 11.6 cents per kilowatt hour current net metering customers receive for their excess solar power far exceeds what it would cost local electricity monopoly NV Energy to produce the power itself. But the utility doesn’t pay that bill. NV Energy’s other customers do.

So NV Energy wants to reduce that rate to 5.5 cents per kilowatt hour. The solar industry says such a credit reduction would increase panel owners’ power bills to the point that they wouldn’t recover their investment. Too bad. Their benefit has been everyone else’s burden.

If the PUC doesn’t authorize NV Energy’s rate request, it should create a net metering tariff that at least comes close. It’s time for solar to pay full freight.

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