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June 17, 2019

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Solar compromise moves to Assembly floor

Solar Panels

John Harrington / Sunrun / AP

Real estate experts Drew Scott, left, and Jonathan Scott, center, stars of the HGTV show “Property Brothers” and solar enthusiasts, help install Sunrun solar panels Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, on their “smart home” in Las Vegas.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, the rooftop solar industry and NV Energy brokered a deal today to resolve conflict over the rooftop solar cap.

The Assembly’s Commerce and Labor Committee moved the proposal for a floor vote that’s likely to happen in the coming days.

The measure follows months of heated debate and a weekend of negotiations regarding a solar cap that currently limits how many consumers can power their homes and the grid with rooftop solar panels. The committee delayed a Saturday hearing on the matter because Sandoval and the other stakeholders were working on a compromise.

The legislation would change the current participation limits on the policy, put a temporary threshold in place and shift the regulation of the policy to the Public Utilities Commission. The proposal would require the commission to study adding a fee for rooftop solar customers and investigate a longstanding participation limit for rooftop solar customers by Dec 31. If the PUC fails to meet that deadline, the solar industry would be able to continue operating as usual and would be able to provide services to an unlimited number of customers.

The policy, known as net metering, currently allows participation up to 3 percent of NV Energy’s peak generating capacity, which is around 7,500 megawatts, or the amount of energy required to power 9,000 Super Walmarts. Solar customers receive a 6-cent credit for the power they supply to the grid with their solar panels. The solar industry, which currently supplies more than 6,000 jobs in the state, says the state is nearing its threshold and will stop if lawmakers don’t do something to increase the cap.

NV Energy characterizes the credit as a subsidy supported by non-solar customers. The utility says for every percent the cap increases, ratepayers will see a cost of at least $8 million.

The proposal will change the participation requirements from the 3 percent cap to a temporary limit of 235 megawatts worth of consumer participation in the utility’s net metering program until the PUC hashes out its own solution in December. The solar industry currently has 145.6 megawatts worth of participation. The legislation is likely to provide space for the industry to grow and not max out on megawatts before the PUC makes a final ruling on the matter.

Lawmakers, the solar industry and NV Energy all support the proposed legislation in SB374. The Alliance for Solar Choice, a consortium of Nevada’s prominent rooftop solar companies, and NV Energy issued a joint statement on the matter, expressing the mutual consent and thanking the governor. In Monday’s hearing, all sides didn’t hesitate to say they agreed on the current proposal.

Sen. Patricia Farley, R-Las Vegas, sponsored the rooftop solar language and said in a statement the bill was an important move to not “disrupt the net metering market in Nevada during the transition period.”

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