Thursday, May 26, 2016 | 1:55 p.m.
An energy task force today recommended Nevada’s governor support legislation to let people who installed rooftop solar panels under old, more favorable utility rates keep those rates for 20 years.
Representatives from NV Energy and the clean-energy sector were among those voting in favor of exempting pre-2016 rooftop solar customers from a new rate structure that went into effect this year.
Utility regulators in December approved new rates that triple a fixed fee and reduce the value of credits rooftop solar customers earn for sending excess electricity back to the grid.
Among the most controversial aspects of the new rates, which are being phased in over 12 years, is that they apply to all customers, including those who adopted solar before the decision.
The New Energy Industry Task Force, which is considering a number of additional legislative proposals, must meet a June 1 deadline for recommending bills to the governor. In the coming months, Sandoval will review requests and decide which bills he wants to send to the Legislature for the 2017 session.
Earlier this year, Sandoval criticized the new rates for applying to existing customers, who might have purchased rooftop solar units assuming they would benefit from the old rate structure.
“The (Public Utilities Commission) did not reach the outcome I had hoped for,” he said in a statement after the new rates were approved. “I remained optimistic that the commission would find a solution that considered the economic consequences to existing rooftop solar owners.”
A top Sandoval aide previously told the task force the administration believed a legislative fix was needed.
“Today’s vote is a major step towards bringing back solar for all Nevadans,” said Chandler Sherman, a spokesperson for the Bring Back Solar Alliance, which seeks to undo the new rates. The group is funded by rooftop solar provider SolarCity.
“We look forward to working with Gov. Sandoval and the Legislature to address this recommendation during next year’s legislative session,” Sherman said.