The utility is arguing that the order is incorrectly directing savings to a limited number of new solar customers. Source: NV Energy

The utility is arguing that the order is incorrectly directing savings to a limited number of new solar customers. Source: NV Energy

Nevada’s monopoly utility NV Energy has asked the Public Utilities Commission to reconsider its recent decision to largely dissolve the state’s controversial net metering rates that were blamed for bringing the rooftop solar industry to a halt.

The decision filed on 22 Dececmber 2016 restored more favourable rates for up to 1,250 future residential solar consumers under Sierra Pacific Power in Northern Nevada for a three-year period beginning 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2019.

The approval of the draft order was hailed as a victory at the time, with chairman Joseph Reynolds saying: “Abraham Lincoln one said that ‘bad promises are better broken than kept’. The PUCN’s prior decisions on [net metering], in several respects, maybe best viewed as a promise better left unkept. The PUCN is free to apply a new approach.”

But said “new approach” is not sitting well with NV Energy, which argues in its rehearing request to regulators that the December order takes savings that were intended for a larger customer base and directs them to a smaller subset of future solar customers.

Specifically, the utility argued that in October 2016, it had reached an agreement to lower annual electricity rates for residential and small general service customers by around US$2.92 million annually; providing a total saving of US$8.77 million over the three-year rate period. But the key part of this agreement was that these savings were to be shared across a broad base of Northern Nevada electric customers. Under the draft order approved in December, NV Energy does not feel this last criterion is satisfied.

The PUC has 40 days to respond to NV Energy’s request.

The challenging of the order should not be surprising, as a spokesperson for the PUCN told PV Tech that there is a reconsideration period that is still open and therefore the recent decision remains pending.

The final status of net metering in Nevada will be decided during the General Rate Case later in 2017, when commissioners will decide whether to restore retail net metering or not.

Tags: us, usa, nevada, net metering, nv energy, utility, public utilities commission, puc, rate design, residential

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