Regulators in Nevada and Colorado have separately issued rulings that will throw a lifeline to the states’ respective solar net metering programmes.
Nevada’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has extended existing net metering rates to new customers until 31 December after a 235MW cap on residential solar installations was reached last week, several months earlier than initially expected.
The early running out of the cap had already prompted installer Vivint Solar to abandon expansion plans in Nevada, with the company citing uncertainties around whether the cap would be extended.
Nevada’s PUC has now confirmed that the existing rates will be maintained for all installations up until 31 December, or until the commission meets again to discuss a replacement rate.
The Alliance for Solar Choice welcomed the move, adding that it allowed solar industry employees to “go back to work” after last Thursday’s cap had all but ended activity in the market. And Bryan Miller, co-chairman of the Alliance, said it was now up to the Commissioners to establish long-term rules for the sake of the market.
“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. Nevadans will remain vocal to ensure that these rules allow Nevada’s solar industry to continue creating jobs and driving economic growth,” Miller added.
While the net metering status quo has received substantial support from Nevada residents, NV Energy, a major utility in the state, had sought to introduce changes including a standardisation of net metering rates and the addition of optional time of use charging.
These measures would factor in both a demand charge and energy charge into pricing, factors which have met opposition in other US states as a perceived attempt to cap solar deployment.
Colorado maintains status quo
Meanwhile regulators in Colorado have ruled to leave the state’s net metering rules unchanged following efforts to have them reduced.
Utility Xcel Energy had been pushing to have net metering rates reduced on the basis that they offered a “hidden subsidy” to solar customers.
But the state’s PUC voted 3-0 to maintain the status quo.
“This appears to be the outcome we have been working towards in more than a year of work,” Rebecca Cantwell, executive director of the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association, told local newspaper, the Daily Camera.
“We have worked in full collaboration with other members of the solar industry, and this represents a tremendous amount of hard work from many people.”
Additional reporting by Ben Willis.