The Public Utilities Commission has taken a lot of unwarranted heat lately in relation to the recently approved net metering rate schedules that apply to rooftop solar owners. I am thankful the commission did not cave to the extreme pressure from solar companies, industry groups, environmental groups, politicians and rooftop solar owners.
The PUC is a regulatory agency that ensures investor-owned utilities comply with laws enacted by the Nevada Legislature. The above mentioned groups put pressure on the PUC to act in violation of state law. Since 2013, rooftop solar has been a thriving industry in Nevada, capitalizing on federal tax credits, state rebates and the ability to sell power back to the utility at handsome rates. Now, this industry is investing millions for lawyers and lobbyists, to continue to operate at your expense.
The initial rates paid for excess power were substantially higher than incremental costs for the utility to purchase or generate power, less distribution costs. This allowed a transforming technology to get a start and for individuals to participate in solar technology. Senate Bill 374, passed in the 2015 Legislature, allowed NV Energy to establish just and reasonable rates, through a defined process, for Nevada consumer-generators.
The term “just” for the PUC aligns with my definition: It does not force me to pay the return on investment for someone else’s rooftop solar, at least not forever. “Reasonable” should align with the rooftop solar owner’s view, as the new net metering rate will not make a sudden change, but rather will be phased in over five years.
Additionally, rooftop solar consumers now have the choice of switching to a demand type of rate schedule, where they can be paid premium rates for delivering power at peak demand times. Let’s move on and see how we can adapt solar technology within a less subsidized rate structure.
North Las Vegas
‘Tiny’ rate changes
Everything about net metering that I have read only discusses the “tiny” changes for rooftop solar owners in the first year, but never addresses what happens a few years from now. The impact of the change in 2016 is fairly small, but a few years from now, the connection fee will have tripled and I will have to “give” four units of electricity to “receive” one unit back.
At the onset of this program, the established fees were recommended by NV Energy to the Public Utilities Commission. How could NV Energy have been so wrong then, and so right now?
Rooftop solar helps reduce the strain on the power grid during peak demand times, something NV Energy has programs for to entice people to use less energy. Any excess power generated by my system goes to a neighbor who pays NV Energy for its use. I provide power during high-demand times, or at least reduce strain on the power grid, which are both good things. I draw power back from NV Energy at night, when there is excess supply and power is less costly.
To make the new net metering rates apply to people who already have systems is basically no different than your lender notifying you that it is tripling the interest rate on your mortgage. Do you really think this change is about what is best for practically all of us?
I read with interest the “Road Warrior” column on the high-occupancy-vehicle lanes (“HOV lane scofflaws fueling irritation,” Jan. 11 Review-Journal). I think the issues with HOV lanes, striping and violators could be resolved by instituting a few measures.
As a former police officer, I would first suggest the state start by changing the current white striping to yellow striping. The white striping serves to confuse people as to the legality of crossing it. But all drivers know you don’t cross yellow lines. Second, once the yellow striping is in place, increase fines to $300 for violators. And last, to ensure compliance, sporadic enforcement would be needed. Over time, compliance will improve.
On the other hand, though, we should be fair to those who don’t approve of regulated HOV lanes, by having no HOV lanes at all. Since all drivers, through a combination of taxes, pay for all the roads, isn’t it unfair to deny them full use of the entire road? In the state’s rush to judgment to benefit a select few drivers — cars with two or more passengers, or from some government agency, or with a blow-up balloon in the passenger seat — should the rest of us be doomed to the traffic congestion of the right-hand lanes?
In the end, I think I’m in favor of less regulation, unless my dog counts as a person. And to all you slow pokes, stay to the right unless passing.