Yesterday dozens of concerned Nevadans gathered at the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) to show support for one of the state’s most important rooftop solar programs. The energetic crowd delivered more than 4,300 petition signatures urging state leaders to stand strong for rooftop solar and the many economic, environmental and grid benefits it delivers throughout the state. It was awesome.
This demonstration of public solar support coincides with a PUCN workshop being held today to evaluate the state’s successful net metering program. Net metering gives Nevada solar customers full credit on their energy bills for valuable clean electricity they deliver to the utility grid. This simple crediting arrangement is one of the most effective state policies for enabling Nevadans to go solar. In filings before the PUCN, NV Energy has stated its interest in eliminating Nevada’s net metering program altogether.
Sound too egregious to be true, right? Well unfortunately it's not. NV Energy's comments in the net metering study docket says it all: "Ideally, NEM as we know it would be eliminated." Meanwhile, NV Energy customers feel very differently . . .
“Any Nevadan knows that our state has a tremendous solar resource. I'm proud that my solar investment is lowering my own bills as well as those of my neighbors by producing clean, reliable local electricity. It just makes sense to put that free sunshine to work with good state policy that clears the way for more Nevadans to go solar,” said retired Colonel Michael Horsley, a Las Vegas resident who went solar in 2013.
"Every week, Gymcats touches the lives of 1,500 kids, helping them grow stronger and shine. It's important to me that we lead our students by example when it comes to transitioning away from the fossil fuels of the past and building our new energy economy," added Cassie Rice, owner of Gymcats, one of the largest gymnastics facilities in the Las Vegas area. "Today we are proud to meet about 40 percent of our own electricity needs with plentiful Nevada sunshine. This investment in solar has helped my business take control of our utility bills, choose clean energy and further benefit the community we serve."
By reducing the need for expensive traditional power plants and utility infrastructure, this local clean energy investment is a cost-saver for solar and non-solar customers alike. We are working to encourage the state’s policymakers to recognize these benefits and ensure that Nevada’s solar customers continue to be fairly compensated for them with a strong net metering program.
A recent study from the PUCN confirmed that the grid benefits from net metered clean energy systems installed from 2014 to 2016 will outweigh costs by $174 million, helping keep rates low for all NV Energy customers. In addition to these grid benefits, rooftop solar is proving to be a strong economic engine for the state. Nevada’s growing rooftop solar market has driven $200 million in private investment and helped support more than 2,400 solar jobs with both local and national solar companies.
“Just as leading national rooftop solar companies like Sunrun are investing in Nevada’s clean economy and creating in-state solar jobs, rooftop solar has come under attack,” said Walker Wright, spokesperson for The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC). “We encourage state leaders to stand for innovation and progress by ensuring that Nevadans can continue to generate their own clean energy.”
Local solar power development is also building healthier communities and benefiting the environment by reducing harmful pollution. This pollution reduction is especially important for low-income families who disproportionately bear the public health burden of fossil power. Of particular benefit to Nevada, rooftop solar also helps reduce the state’s use of water-intensive traditional power sources.
“Whether we are talking about healthier air for our children to breathe, water conservation during this severe drought, or combatting the very real threat of climate change, solar is readily available to be part of the solution here in Nevada. I urge our state leaders to defend our net metering program and other policies that empower Nevada homes, schools and businesses to invest in and benefit from a growing clean energy economy,” said Jane Feldman, Energy Chair for the Toiyabe Chapter of Sierra Club.
So why is NV Energy working to weaken such a commonsense solar program? Quite simply, affordable solar puts Nevadans in control of their electricity bills like never before, and the utility views this kind of customer energy choice as a threat to its old way of doing business. Nevada solar supporters are coming together to urge state leaders to stand strong for innovation, progress and customer choice by defending rooftop solar.
We were proud to work with a number of great partners on the petition drive including TASC, the Sierra Club and CREDO as well as local consumers and businesses. Thanks to all of the 75 folks who showed up in person at the PUCN and the thousands more who spoke up by adding their name to our petition. If you live in Nevada, it's not to late to show your support by adding your name here!