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PUC votes to keep net metering policies in place through end of 2015

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COURTESY

In this file photo, Vivint Solar employees install solar panels on a home.

Updated Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015 | 3:42 p.m.

Nevada's Public Utilities Commission awarded the solar industry a short-term victory on Wednesday, offering a stopgap solution for the solar cap that maxed out last week.

On a 3-0 vote, the PUC approved a measure that requires NV Energy to extend the same rates and credits for a program called net metering, which compensates some rooftop solar customers for energy they provide to the power grid.

The state currently limits how many consumers can participate in the program. Wednesday's decision ends a battle that erupted after NV Energy announced in July that the solar cap would be hit sooner than expected. The cap was reached on Friday, leaving rooftop solar companies in limbo about what rates they would receive for participating in the program.

The utility and rooftop solar companies both offered suggestions for interim solutions.

In his order, commissioner David Noble suggested the PUC needs more time to vet new price structures before it takes action. The commission has a December deadline for coming up with a permanent net metering structure.

NV Energy’s proposed plan would reduce the value of credits paid to consumers and add a new fees. In filings with the PUC, the company said that the current structure unfairly shifts costs to customers without solar. The rooftop solar industry expects that the utility-backed proposal would reduce the rate of adoption of solar power.

“The hard work is now before the Commissioners to issue long-term rules” said Bryan Miller, co-chairman of The Alliance for Solar Choice, a coalition of solar companies that lobbies across the nation. “We are grateful that the Commission’s decision will allow Nevadans to return to their jobs today, while the Commission determines long-term rules for solar net metering.”

A representative for NV Energy said that the company stood behind solar power. "As we have said from the beginning, we support cost competitive renewable energy in all forms, and will continue to work with stakeholders through this interim period to ensure Nevada retains its leadership position in the development of renewable energy,” Jennifer Schuricht, NV Energy spokeswoman said after the hearing.