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November 14, 2018

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Rooftop solar cap reached

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NV Energy website

A screen grab of the NV Energy cap tracker shows that rooftop solar is maxed out.

Updated Friday, Aug. 21, 2015 | 8:40 a.m.

New consumers will be prevented from linking their rooftop solar panels into Nevada’s power grid to receive credit for energy produced, according to NV Energy's online tracking.

The tracker projected Thursday the limit would be hit by Saturday, but it now shows that the cap is maxed out.

The news comes before the Public Utilities Commission today vets an array of proposals that would impose new costs on rooftop solar customers but would keep the solar industry alive. A vote is expected as early as Wednesday, opening the potential of a multiday gap that could hurt the solar industry.

The meetings follow months of uncertainty about when the solar industry would hit the state-imposed cap that limits the number of customers who are allowed to receive credits for solar power under a policy known as net metering.

Over the next several days, the commission will either be forced to adopt a temporary framework for continuing the net metering program or risk what many in the solar industry describe as a catastrophe in the burgeoning market for alternative energy.

Today’s meeting begins the fourth quarter in a battle that is likely continue until the end of the year. Here’s what you need to know.

WHAT HAPPENS TODAY

Expert witnesses championing the solar industry and the power company will offer evidence to the PUC.

The solar industry hopes that once the cap is maxed, the industry won’t halt and new customers won’t be charged what it calls exorbitant fees. NV Energy wants to create a new price structure for new customers who want to participate after the cap is hit.

NV Energy proposed a plan that would halve the credit it pays to customers for the rooftop solar energy they provide to the grid. It also proposed a new demand charge and a user fee.

WHAT HITTING THE CAP MEANS FOR CONSUMERS

For the 9,171 net metering customers hooked up to NV Energy, the end of the cap could mean little. But it’s a big deal for customers who want to buy or lease solar panels in the coming days. Once the cap is reached, NV Energy will no longer send its employees to tie rooftop solar installations into the grid. The PUC could also vote to impose the pricing model proposed by NV Energy or it could craft a solution of its own.

WHAT COMES AFTER THE CAP

Whatever the PUC decides on Wednesday is only an interim solution.

NV Energy and the solar industry made a gentlemen’s agreement (and a law) during the session in which they agreed to lift the cap entirely in return for a new price structure. Neither side expected the cap to be hit so soon — prompting the current dilemma.

The PUC is tasked with coming up with a permanent solution by December to end the cap battle.

WHAT THE ATTORNEY GENERAL JUST DID

Late Thursday, the attorney general’s Bureau of Consumer Protection — which represents ratepayers in PUC cases — requested that the commission not agree to NV Energy’s new fees as an interim solution. “Notably, just last year (NV Energy) testified in support … that the current rate design was reasonable,” the bureau wrote in the filing.

NV Energy said on Thursday that rooftop solar customers cost it money, which it is forced to pass on to nonsolar consumers — around $8 to $12 million in expenses for every 3,000 new rooftop solar customers.

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