Net metering is a contentious issue in a growing number of states, and NV Energy is again battling over the rule.
|Solar Panels on Gass Peak in Nevada. Credit: Ballonboy101/Wikimedia Commons|
Under the current net metering rules, the Alliance for Solar Choice filed a petition with the Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUC) saying that the current net metering cap will be reached well before the Dec. 31 deadline. TASC is asking the PUC to look at the case, and determine a new cap -- before the end of the year.
"While we can't predict the specific date that the cap will be reached, the industry is fast approaching the 235 MW cap and will hit it before a new program is in place -- as early as August," TASC spokesperson Lauren Randall told FierceEnergy. "TASC filed an emergency petition with the Commission yesterday to clarify that the existing program can continue until a new net metering program is in place. This request aligns with the intent of SB 374 to prevent industry disruption."
TASC is also saying that Nevada utility NV Energy did not account for 17.5 megawatts (MW) of solar when it filed projections, and is also currently received 6 MW of solar applications each week.
Nevada's current net metering cap is 235 MW, which was not raised by lawmakers in the last legislative session, despite opposition. Lawmakers and NV Energy agreed that before they would raise the cap, PUC would conduct a study to determine benefits to raising the cap, and compromised on creating a new rate class in the meantime.
In May, when the bill (HB 374) was being considered, around 145 MW of solar was currently being used in net metering. The compromise gave PUC power to come up with new rules by December, but the issue is what would happen if the current net metering cap was met before that.
"NV Energy said throughout the legislative session that we would not hit the cap until next year. The solar industry disagreed," Randall explained. "SB 374 presented a solution by promising a smooth transition with the intention of preventing any industry disruption. The Commission can clarify matters to prevent layoffs and disruption."
However, NV Energy said they based their estimates on the best available at the time.
"We based the estimated date for reaching the net metering limit under the existing rules on both an analysis of historical application data and input from rooftop solar providers," Jennifer Schuricht, NV Energy spokesperson, told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "We have been in regular contact with the rooftop solar industry to make them aware of the changing date."
In April, TASC conducted a study on the public perception of net metering, and found that 84 percent of respondents were in support of solar energy, while 70 percent support a net metering policy, and nearly 74 percent would be less likely to support a representative who had not voted for a rise in the cap of net metering.
"Without clarification from the Commission," Randall told FierceEnergy, "the industry would come to a halt and the more than 6,000 Nevadans employed by solar could lose their jobs."
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