SolarCity applauds accord to grandfather Nevada rooftop customers

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Regulators in Nevada are poised on Friday to vote through a new settlement agreed between state utility NV Energy and leading rooftop PV installer SolarCity calling for the grandfathering of more than 32,000 rooftop solar customers in the state.

The topic has been a thorny one for the Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUCN) since it first voted last December to create a separate rate class for customers that participate in net metering. SolarCity, and other solar providers operating in the state, opposed the move, stating that it undermined solar’s validity and served to move the goalposts for customers that had invested in PV arrays in good faith that their net metering arrangement would be secure for 20 years.

SolarCity since lobbied the PUCN to allow those customers who installed or applied to install a solar system on or before December 31 2015 to be ‘grandfathered’, ie, remain under the original net metering terms and not pay the new fees applied to excess generation of power being sent to the grid.

NV Energy originally supported SolarCity’s push for grandfathering, but flip-flopped over the issue before finally declaring its support in July.

On September 1, it was reported that the PUCN had denied SolarCity’s request to participate in the decision-making process regarding the grandfathering of solar customers in the state, prompting fears that the current rates would be upheld. However, yesterday it was confirmed that a deal had been struck to roll back the rate increases for solar customers who hopped on board the PV train before the turn of the year.

"This agreement is a victory not only for 32,000 solar customers in Nevada," said SolarCity chief policy officer Jon Wellinghoff in a statement, "but also for all Americans who expect these investments to be protected."

NV Energy also issued a statement that affirmed the settlement agreement with SolarCity was intended to "offer a solution for solar customers in the most efficient and timely manner", while Nevada governor Brian Sandoval urged the PUCN to act quickly on this agreement. "It’s time to move on," he said.

With all parties now in agreement, it is expected that Friday’s vote will ratify this new settlement and place solar customers back on to the net metering rates they enjoyed prior to January 1, 2016.

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