The Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUC) made the decision to raise fixed fees and cut net metering payments on solar customers late last year. Beginning in January, Nevada Energy (NE) reduced the payments to customers for energy they generated (aka ”excess energy credit”). They also refused to grandfather existing customers into the original net metering rates. Instead, they adopted a new policy which reduces the retail rate to a wholesale rate. These fees make it expensive for customers to use solar panels to generate their electricity needs. The rate increases are a challenge to both customers and installers. Some owners have filed a lawsuit against NE for removing the benefits of their solar programs and rebates. Three solar industries have closed in Nevada as a result of the PUC decision.
In sunny Arizona things aren’t much better. Last October, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) rejected a solar fee increase proposed by Arizona Public Service (APS). At the time, evidence came out that APS had funding ties with secret non-profit organizations representing anti-solar interests and that it was directing its anti-solar money through channels associated with the Koch brothers. There have also been allegations concerning ACC’s close ties with APS. An investigation revealed APS met with then Commissioner Stump repeatedly during the solar debates. APS withdrew its proposal and both sides entered into discussion about the costs and benefits of solar.
In June this year APS filed a general rate case. This time they are requesting demand charges for all customers. The plan also includes a request for fixed charge increases and cuts to the net metering rate. A second utility company has also filed a proposal to cut its net metering payment to customers. Unlike Nevada, existing customers and those who install before July, 2017 will be grandfathered in and allowed to keep the retail rate credit for the full life of their solar.
There has been a lot of negativity expressed about the APS demand charge plan which is viewed as an attack on all ratepayers but with the specific intention to make solar unaffordable. It is expected that during the upcoming hearings solar advocates will ask the ACC to throw out or cut back on the APS proposals. If passed, the proposed changes will hit consumers hard and threaten the solar industry in Arizona.
ALEC and utility industry funders’ agenda to promote bills which eliminate net metering can be seen very clearly in the attacks on the solar industry in both Nevada and Arizona.
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