The Nevada Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously to move forward with a new rate structure for customers with rooftop solar panels. The three-member commission adopted a proposed order last week that would reduce by 75 percent the amount NV Energy pays customers for excess power their solar panels produce and change the flat service rate for customers with solar panels. The changes in so-called net metering policies would phase in over five years, starting Jan. 1.
According to a report from The Associated Press, the exact amounts of the changes haven't been decided, but solar companies say they expect their customers' base service charge to double or triple over the five years.
The commission says the current rate structure shifts costs from Nevada's more than 17,000 net-metering customers to people without solar panels. A new structure would phase out subsidies that have been in place since 1997 and better reflect the cost of serving solar customers, who still use NV Energy transmission lines and tap into the utility's power at night or when their panels aren't generating their energy.
Commissioners did side with solar companies in declining to approve a new "demand charge," saying it could confuse customers and overwhelm them at a time when other rate changes are taking effect, the AP reported.
Solar companies are unhappy that the new rate structure would apply to customers who bought solar panels in years past, not just new ones signing on.