Nevada governor signs net metering bill

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Dive Brief:

  • Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has signed Assembly Bill 405, restoring net metering rates close to the retail level for rooftop solar customers and erasing the specter of the state's 2015 decision to reduce compensation.
  • Vivint SolarTesla and Sunrun closed up shop in Nevada after the net metering program was slashed in 2016, but all have announced that they will resume operations contingent on the bill becoming law. 
  • Nevada lawmakers passed a flurry of clean energy bills this session. Gov. Sandoval must also decide whether to sign Assembly Bill 206 and Senate Bill 392, which respectively would boost the state's renewable portfolio standard and develop a community solar program   

Dive Insight:

There's stilll no word on whether Sandoval will sign two more pieces of clean energy legislation, with attention particularly focused on boosting the state's renewable energy usage. For instance, AB 206 would raise the state's RPS to 40% by 2030, up from the current 25% by 2025 goal. But the net metering decision was hailed as a victory for clean energy advocates, the solar industry and the state's reputation.

Under the revised rules, rooftop solar customers will be compensated at 95% of the retail electricity rate for energy sent back to the grid. The credit declines overtime in 7% for every 80 MW of rooftop solar energy deployed, until it reaches a floor rate at 75% of the retail rate.

Chad Tudenggongbu, senior renewable energy campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement that the law "puts Nevada back on track, after bad policy decisions caused solar development in the state to come screeching to a halt."

Nevada has been in a standoff with the solar industry for two years, since regulators reduced net metering competitionand took things a step further by declining to grandfather in existing contracts. The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada subsequently softened its stance, approving a grandfathering clause and partially restoring retail rate net metering to customers in northern Nevada, but Sandoval signing AB 405 brings more policy certainty to the industry. 

At a signing bill ceremony, Reuters reports Tesla Chief Technical Officer JB Straubel said the company would restart operations immediately, and Nevada's new solar policy will "bring in thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in positive economic benefit."

In addition to possibly boosting the state's renewables standard, Sandoval also has on his desk a measure to create a community solar program. SB 392 establishes a statewide community solar goal of 200 MW by 2023, directs state regulators to develop program rules, and creates a bill crediting structure. Additionally, 10% of community solar garden capacity would be available to low-income ratepayers and service organizations.

The Senate approved the measure 17-4 and the Assembly approved the measure 30-12. 

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Filed Under: Energy & Utilities
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