NV Energy changes its tune on grandfathering of net metering customers in Nevada

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The fight over changes to Nevada’s net metering policy have taken another turn, as testimony by NV Energy shows that the utility’s proposals for “grandfathering” of net metering customers are not as beneficial for these customers as originally implied.

In a press statement released on February 25, NV Energy stated that it would propose to the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) that its customers who own PV systems and qualified under the original net metering arrangement could stay under the old rules for “up to 20 years”.

This statement was made after PUCN, NV Energy and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval had all come under heavy local and national criticism for the PUCN’s decision to retroactively change the rules of net metering in a way severely undermines the economics of customer-owned solar PV.

However, testimony filed by an NV Energy Vice President on Monday gives seven options for phasing in existing customers to the new net metering rules. These range from a four-year to a 20-year transition, and NV Energy VP Shawn Elicegui warns PUCN that the 20-year option will exacerbate the “cost shift” that the utility is alleging.

In essence, NV Energy has proposed “grandfathering” existing customers up to 20 years, but has given other options and discouraged PUCN from acting on the 20-year proposal.

“NV Energy dangled a carrot in front of its customers last week, but the monopoly isn’t actually committed to treating all Nevada homeowners fairly,” stated Dale Matz, a Nevada home and PV system owner who was quoted in an Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) press release. “Instead, this is simply a public relations play that seeks to pad Warren Buffett’s bottom line."

PUCN will hold a hearing on the utility’s proposal on February 8. Meanwhile, the solar industry, Nevada state government and homeowners are pursuing a variety of legal, regulatory and political means to overturn the ruling that ended retail-rate net metering.

These include a formal motion for reconsideration, a ballot initiative to overturn the ruling, at least two class action lawsuits filed by homeowners, and a lawsuit by TASC to get the governor to release his text communications with NV Energy.

Many of these actions go well beyond the issue of grandfathering, and seek to overturn the entire ruling. So whatever the outcome on February 8, it is clear that the conflict in Nevada will continue.