The Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is reconsidering whether its recent, highly controversial decision on net metering for rooftop solar should apply to the state’s 17,000 existing solar customers.
The PUC had drawn fire for raising monthly solar service charges retroactively. “But after enormous public outcry and the backing of NV Energy, the Warren Buffett-owned utility, the commission decided [Monday] to reconsider whether existing customers should be grandfathered,” Politico Morning Energy reports.
A new advocacy group, We Are Team Solar, is calling on Governor Brian Sandoval to fire PUC Commissioners David Noble, Paul Thomsen, and Alaina Burtenshaw for failing in their duty to “encourage private investment in renewable energy resources” in the state. News reports suggested the effort had the support of Green Tea Party leader Debbie Dooley.
On CleanTechnica last week, the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Chris Nelder and Mark Dyson recapped the Nevada controversy and warned the PUC could be pushing the state down the road to grid defection. By matching their electricity use more carefully with the output of their photovoltaic systems, “a Nevada solar customer could increase the amount of the self-generated power they consume from an estimated 50% to nearly 70%, and reduce the impact of the new tariffs by 25%.”
While fully abandoning the grid might not pay off today for most Nevada customers, “some PV owners are already considering it,” they wrote. “The confluence of rising utility rates and declining costs of solar-plus-battery systems may lead some customers to cost-effectively disconnect from the grid, or in the case where they don’t disconnect, shift a large majority of their own load to these behind-the-meter resources.”
So “instead of building a grid that integrates customer-owned, behind-the-meter resources, policies that encourage grid defection may lead to a Balkanized grid in which thousands of customers simply generate and consume their own power, with increasing unit costs for any energy served by the existing grid.”