After serving northern Nevada for many years, Peak Electric has decided to relocate to Southern California. Any northern Nevada clients feel free to reach out, and we can refer you to other reputable electricians in the area. We look forward to bringing our high quality service to the customers in the greater San Diego area!
We are now offering electrical services for Residential Remodels, Main Panel Upgrades, Backup Generators, and New Construction. No job too big or small.
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Peak Electric and Petersen Dean
Peak Electric is working with PetersenDean roofing and solar company to prove residential solar systems in all of northern Nevada. We are now there primary electricians. We have already completed over 30 grid ties and battery backup photovoltaic systems. Get rid of your energy bill and get some rooftop solar panels!
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Peak Electric is proud to announce that we closed the deal on our first shop in Minden, Nevada. We will be have regular office hours from 7:00 to 5:00.
We will be using the office/shop to continue our growth as both electricians and photovoltaic solar installers. Give us a call or stop by anytime to talk about putting solar panels on your roof!
Happy New Years!
Peak Electric is happy to announce that we are the number one rated electricians and solar installers in the Carson Valley for 2017, according to yelp! We look forward to continuing offering the highest quality electrical services, as well as solar design and installation for all Northern Nevada!
WASHINGTON — The Republican tax bills moving through Congress could significantly hobble the United States’ renewable energy industry because of a series of provisions that scale back incentives for wind and solar power while bolstering older energy sources like oil and gas production.
The possibility highlights the degree to which the nation’s recent surge in renewable electricity generation is still sustained by favorable tax treatment, which has lowered the cost of solar and wind production while provoking the ire of fossil-fuel competitors seeking to weaken those tax preferences.
Whether lawmakers choose to protect or jettison various renewable tax breaks in the final bill being negotiated on Capitol Hill could have major ramifications for the U.S. energy landscape, including the prices consumers pay for electricity.
Wind and solar are two of the fastest-growing sources of power in the country, providing 7 percent of electricity last year. Sharp declines in the cost of wind turbines and photovoltaic panels, coupled with generous tax credits that can offset at least 30 percent of project costs, have made new wind and solar even cheaper than running existing fossil-fuel plants in parts of the country.
In different ways, direct and indirect, the House and Senate bills each imperil elements of that ascension. A Senate bill provision intended to stop multinational companies from shifting profits overseas could unexpectedly cripple a key financing tool used by the renewable energy industry, particularly solar, by eroding the value of tax credits that banks and other financial institutions buy from energy companies.
The House bill’s effects would be more direct, rolling back tax credits for wind farms and electric vehicles, while increasing federal support for two nuclear reactors under construction in Georgia. Fossil fuel producers are under little pressure in either bill and some would stand to benefit: The Senate legislation would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil drilling, while a last-minute amendment added by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, would allow oil and gas companies to receive lower tax rates on their profits.
The tension between new and old energy was on display this week at a White House event to promote the Republican tax legislation, where a coal plant employee from North Dakota thanked President Donald Trump for a provision in the House bill that would drastically reduce the value of the production tax credit for wind.
“The production tax credit has destroyed the energy market, especially in the Midwest,” the employee, Jessica Unruh, who is also a state representative, told the president. “Wind production has really eroded our state tax base and replaced coal production when it comes to electricity production.”
The wind industry has warned that the House language, which would reduce the wind tax credit to 1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, from 2.4 cents, and change eligibility rules, could eliminate over half of the new wind farms planned in the United States.
“We would see a drastic drop-off in wind installations,” said Michael Goggin, the senior director of research at the American Wind Energy Association. “We’re already seeing orders put on hold and projects not able to get refinancing. Even the threat of this bill is having a chilling effect.”
The tax bill joins a host of federal policy changes proposed by the Trump administration that could crimp the growth in clean energy. Those include a proposed Environmental Protection Agency rollback of President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan for reducing carbon emissions and the looming possibility that Trump will impose tariffs on imported solar panels, which could increase the cost of solar power.
“There is a perfect storm of bad news that impacts investor confidence in renewables,” said Trevor Houser, a former Obama administration climate official who now tracks energy economics as a partner at the Rhodium Group. “It is shaping up to be a pretty rough 2018.”
No one is predicting the demise of solar and wind deployment, which rely less each year on tax subsidies as their costs decline and were already preparing for a gradual phaseout of the subsidies by 2020. But the sudden changes could slow what had been a steady pace of adoption and raise electricity prices for consumers in states like California, which have set mandatory targets for the share of renewables in their electricity mixes. In states without such targets, including Texas, more expensive new renewable plants could lose out to natural gas generation.
“In the long run, we think wind and solar will become cheap enough to compete without subsidies,” said Amy Grace, a renewables analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “But in the short term, those tax credits have been important.”
The Trump administration has made no secret of wanting to pull the plug on tax preferences for solar and wind, contending that those industries should have to compete on their own merit.
“I would do away with these incentives that we give to wind and solar,” Scott Pruitt, the chief of the Environmental Protection Agency, said in October. “I’d let them stand on their own and compete against coal and natural gas.”
Congressional aides say the treatment of renewables will be an issue in the continuing negotiations between the Senate and House over a final bill. Lawmakers have begun the process of reconciling the two bills, which have several crucial differences beyond just the energy provisions.
In a potentially bad sign for the renewable industry, the list of Republican senators named to the conference committee Wednesday did not include Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, a longtime champion of the wind industry who has opposed the House’s efforts to curtail wind tax credits before a phaseout scheduled for 2020.
While the Senate version preserves the important tax credits for wind and solar, it includes a provision that could unexpectedly undermine their effectiveness — and has prompted major concern from the industry.
Currently, the companies that build wind and solar farms often do not have large enough tax liabilities to take full advantage of the renewable credits. So they will sell the credits to banks and other investors who can take advantage of them to lower their own tax burdens. Roughly two-thirds of wind projects and three-fourths of solar projects in the United States are supported by such tax equity financing.
But under a provision in the Senate bill known as the Base Erosion Anti-Abuse Tax, intended to prevent companies from outsourcing investment abroad, many of those same banks could face a new minimum tax that reduces the value of those wind and solar credits. That, in turn, could dry up demand for such tax-financing deals. Renewable companies may have to look elsewhere for financing, which could either increase costs or stop some projects.
Abigail Ross Hopper, the president and the chief executive of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said that the provision could negatively affect 39 gigawatts worth of new solar projects around the country — nearly as much as all of the solar power that has been installed to date.
“The jury is still out on whether this was a carefully crafted hits on renewable energy or an unintended consequence,” she said. “But we’re trying to make sure members understand what the impacts of these changes would be.”
In addition to repealing renewable incentives, the House bill would also scrap a key tax credit for electric vehicles. Currently, the federal government offers a tax credit worth up to $7,500 for anyone who buys an electric car, though the credit quickly phases out for any manufacturer that sells 200,000 such vehicles in the United States.
“That would definitely be a big blow to the electric vehicle market, which is just picking up steam,” said Jessica Caldwell, an analyst at Edmunds.com. While Tesla and General Motors are nearing their cap for the tax credit, repeal could significantly affect companies like Nissan, which was planning to introduce a new model of its all-electric Leaf in the coming year.
Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., has said he will work to oppose the House’s repeal of the credit. Tesla is building a major battery factory in his state.
‘Dark years of solar’ behind us? Sandoval signs bill to resurrect solar industry
By Yvonne Gonzalez (contact)
Thursday, June 15, 2017 | 7:30 p.m.
Rooftop solar customers will get more credits for their excess solar energy with the governor’s signing of a net metering bill, a measure that is expected to revive the industry in Nevada.
Using a custom-made solar panel desk, courtesy of Tesla, Gov. Brian Sandoval signed three clean energy bills Thursday at the company’s Las Vegas warehouse. Tesla is among several companies, including Vivint and Sunrun, gearing up to install rooftop solar in Nevada as a result of the change in the state’s net metering policy.
Assembly Bill 405 sets the rate that certain customers can be credited for energy they send to the grid, laying out a step-down rate structure as more homes are equipped with solar panels.
Sandoval said he signed the bill establishing net metering when he was a new governor in 2011. Net metering continually hit its cap of total utility capacity and lawmakers inched the level upward in subsequent years.
Sandoval said that during all this, there was what he called a “hiccup.” A Public Utilities Commission decision in 2015 made changes to net metering and led to higher bills for solar customers, causing companies including Vivint and Sunrun to leave the state.
Assemblyman Chris Brooks, D-Las Vegas, said the governor’s office and other key groups were on board with working out the bill to restore net metering. He said he worked to combine his consumer protection bill with another measure, sponsored by Assemblyman Justin Watkins, D-Las Vegas, that sought to boost credits for solar customers.
He said the bill was amended with input from a range of groups, including NV Energy. The energy provider recommended the credit structure in the bill that goes down to no lower than 75 percent of the retail rate as more homes are equipped with solar panels.
Brooks said he drew on 17 years of experience in the industry, having started the first rooftop solar company in the state.
“Between that and working with all the stakeholders, we found a solution,” he said Thursday.
The bill signing took place in a room where Tesla has started receiving shipments of solar panels, said Diarmuid O'Connell, Tesla’s vice president of business development. The company is going to start hiring to support the new line of business, though O'Connell said it’s unclear how many new employees there will be.
“This is all equipment and infrastructure to essentially relaunch this business, which is what we’re doing,” he said at the warehouse Thursday.
Tesla co-founder and Chief Technical Officer JB Straubel said the net metering bill will bring back solar energy to Nevada, and Sandoval agreed. Straubel said that the company would begin installing solar panels in Nevada as soon as the governor signed the bill.
“It’s going to ultimately provide a pathway for the whole solar industry, not just Tesla but the whole industry, to grow sustainably and with a secure future for years and years to come,” Straubel said.
He said the company has about 1,000 customers who were basically left in “limbo” when net metering collapsed.
“We’ve already begun the outreach to start up this business again,” Straubel said. “This isn’t something that’s going to take days, weeks, months — we’re already starting this.”
PetersenDean Roofing & Solar CEO and President Jim Petersen said in a statement that the company has been installing solar for decades, including during what he called the “dark years of solar.”
“Now that the people have spoken and demanded that a fair market for rooftop solar energy via net metering be restored, we are excited and poised to resume our position as a market leader,” he said Thursday. “Not only will we provide a great value to Nevada residents in the form of cheap, clean power for their homes, but we expect to provide a significant number of skilled, high paying jobs as we add staff to our existing offices in the Las Vegas and Reno markets.”
Distributed resource planning and energy efficiency
Also signed on Thursday were renewable energy bills sponsored by Sen. Pat Spearman, D-North Las Vegas. Senate Bill 146 establishes distributed resource planning, a process that has electric utilities plan to meet future consumer needs.
“With the growing demand of distributed energy resources like solar panels, electric vehicles and energy storage products, we have to plan ahead and we have to make sure that we meet the demands of all this implementation,” Sandoval said. “So this measure will achieve that goal and make sure our state is prepared for a clean energy future.”
Senate Bill 150 creates a process for requiring that electric utility companies meet energy savings goals and require that low-income residents benefit from some of the money for energy efficiency programs.
Sandoval said that this was a detail that needed to have a light shined on it, “no pun intended.”
“This bill will ensure that our utility companies are also working to save ratepayers money by conserving energy,” Sandoval said.
The governor has yet to come down on either side of two other pieces of renewable energy legislation, one that seeks to raise the state’s renewable energy consumption and another that sets up community solar programs.
Sandoval said Thursday that these are two complex pieces of legislation.
Assembly Bill 206 would boost the state’s renewable portfolio standard to 40 percent by 2030, and Senate Bill 392 could allow customers to pay into a community solar project for utility credit.
“As I get deeper into that bill,” Sandoval said of community solar, “it’s a lot larger scale than I thought it was going to be, and also there’s very little PUC oversight. There are just some consumer protection issues that really concern me in that bill.”
The Energy Choice Initiative, a voter-approved policy for an open and competitive energy market, is a concern, he said. Voters need to approve the initiative again in 2018 for it to be amended into the state constitution.
“We would be one of the few states in the country that would seek to adopt a new portfolio standard prior to making a decision on energy choice,” Sandoval said.
Elspeth DiMarzio of the Sierra Club said the group has been advocating for the passage of AB206 since late 2016. She said some members of her group are among those who are continuing to urge the governor to sign the bill.
“If anything, AB206 can complement energy choice in just as meaningful a way as any of the other legislation we’ve seen this year,” she said.
Brooks, the net metering bill sponsor, is also behind the RPS measure.
“We’re crossing our fingers,” he said Thursday of the two renewable energy bills left to be signed.
“Nevadans care about where their energy comes from and Nevadans want us to invest in a clean energy economy,” Brooks said.
Sandoval is on deadline to either sign or veto the two bills by the end of the day Friday.
By Daniel Rothberg (contact)
Monday, Feb. 20, 2017 | 2 a.m.
With legislation proposed last week, Nevada lawmakers will soon debate a number of energy-related issues, including the state’s renewable portfolio standards and efficiency programs. One of the bills would require that 80 percent of the state’s energy come from renewable power sources by 2040 (right now, the requirement is 25 percent by 2025).
The legislation sets two-year benchmarks for meeting the goal. For instance, in 2020 and 2021, providers would be required to get 30 percent of their energy from renewables. By 2030, the goal would be 50 percent, a standard that would match California’s goal.
A key word in this debate will be storage. Because solar and wind can be intermittent — the sun is not always shining, and the wind is not always blowing — those renewable sources often are backed up by a fossil fuel: natural gas. In the future, large-scale batteries that store renewables could replace natural gas. Many batteries currently are expensive, compared to cheap natural gas.
Here are more headlines from the energy world:
• END POINT: The Public Utilities Commission doubled down on a decision to deny NV Energy’s plans to acquire a 550-megawatt natural gas plant in Arizona. NV Energy had argued that the roughly $100 million South Point Energy Center was a steal, but the PUC’s 2-1 denial on Feb. 8 cited uncertainty surrounding the Energy Choice Initiative, which would end NV Energy’s monopoly on supplying power.
• NV ENERGY'S MOVE ON SOLAR: The utility is asking regulators to boost incentives for rooftop solar customers. Doing so, NV Energy argues, would make solar economically advantageous for customers. After controversial rates were imposed last year that changed the economic calculus for going solar, NV Energy received only 287 applications for new rooftop systems. That’s compared to a record 21,923 applications in 2015. Here’s what the utility wrote in a cover letter to regulators: “Increasing the incentive amounts will improve the economics of purchasing a rooftop solar system: New private solar generation customers subject to new net metering rules and rates established by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada can expect a payback period of 20 years or less.” The short version: It could help restore the rooftop solar market.
• CONSIDERING 'POTENTIAL' CARBON?: In a bill pre-filed in November about long-term planning for electric utilities, the Governor’s Office of Energy proposed that the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada give preference to plans that: “Provide for diverse electricity supply portfolios and which reduce customer exposure to the price volatility of fossil fuels and the potential costs of carbon.”
• GOODBYE, COAL: Owners of the Navajo Generating Station in Page, Ariz., voted Feb. 13 to close the West’s largest coal plant when its lease ends in 2019. The plant’s owners — Arizona utilities, NV Energy and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation — were considering a shutdown because coal was becoming increasingly less competitive as natural gas prices remain low.
• PRESENTING THE iSOLAR: In late January, NV Energy announced that Apple would purchase 200 MW for its Reno-based data from a new solar plant. On Feb. 2, NV Energy released the project details. The new solar plant, located in Boulder City, will churn out energy for as low as 3.1 cents per kilowatt-hour. That price-point for large-scale solar makes it competitive with natural gas and coal.
• SPEAKING OF ENERGY CHOICE: Gov. Brian Sandoval announced last week that Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison would head the Governor’s Committee on Energy Choice, which Sandoval unveiled during his State of the State. The formation of the committee comes after voters overwhelmingly approved the Energy Choice Initiative, backed by Switch, Las Vegas Sands and Tesla. If approved by voters again in 2018, the initiative would create a competitive electricity market, allowing consumers to choose their energy provider. But the transition won’t be easy. NV Energy has remained neutral but has warned that the process could be costly and complicated.
NV Energy Challenges Return of Net Metering, Citing Loss of $2.92M in Customer Savings
In late December, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada approved the restoration of retail-rate net metering for home solar customers served by of Sierra Pacific Power Company, a subsidiary of NV Energy. The decision followed a year of policy debates and public outcry over a 2015 order to phase out the net metering credit and increase fixed fees on rooftop solar customers.
The debates are not over yet.
Last week, NV Energy requested that the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) reverse its decision to allow for up to 6 megawatts of new rooftop solar capacity under the old, more favorable net metering policy -- a change made as part of Sierra Pacific's general rate case. The utility stated that restoring net metering for solar customers throws out $2.92 million in annual bill savings, for a total of $8.77 million over the three-year rate period, intended for the broad base of northern Nevada electric customers.
“The December 2016 PUCN order directs NV Energy to reallocate this savings to future new solar net metering customers (1,250 if all residential),” according to a press release issued on January 12. “In its filing made today, the company argues that the December order takes the savings that were intended for a larger customer base and directs them to this small subset of future solar net metering customers.”
NV Energy also claimed that applying cost savings to a single class of private solar NEM customers is inconsistent with an October 2016 agreement reached with the Regulatory Operations Staff of the PUCN, the Bureau of Consumer Protection, Northern Nevada Industrial Electric Users, Northern Nevada Utility Customers, Newmont Mining, a coalition of local governmental entities, Nevadans for Clean Affordable Reliable Energy and Vote Solar.
The filing acknowledged the difficult position Nevada utility regulators find themselves in. NV Energy also praised the PUCN for noting the following in the December order:
Nevada regulators cited a recent report by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners that found cost-shifting at some level is “unavoidable in practical rate design.” At the same time, the PUCN noted that “unreasonable” cost-shifting is not acceptable.
Based on Sierra Pacific’s figures, adding 6 megawatts of new rooftop solar capacity under the old net metering rates would result in a cost shift of 26 cents per month. Meanwhile, the October agreement to save Northern Nevada ratepayers $2.92 million per year is expected to reduce customer bills by an average of 27 cents per month. So, based on utility figures alone, the average residential Sierra Pacific customer will still save 1 cent per month with the return of net metering, regulators wrote.
This calculation allowed the PUCN to conclude that “any cost-shift that may exist” based on Sierra Pacific’s assessments is “reasonable.”
How customers will react in light of NV Energy's new filing remains to be seen. Rooftop solar enjoys strong public support in Nevada, but the net metering debate pits solar and non-solar customers against each other on an issue both groups care deeply about: their pocketbooks.
The PUCN has 40 days to grant or deny NV Energy’s latest request.
Regardless of the outcome, all sides will have other opportunities to address the net metering issue. In June, the PUCN is expected to address net metering in the general rate case for Nevada Power, NV Energy’s subsidiary serving the southern, more populous portion of the state. The PUCN’s December order also stated that further study of NEM is necessary “to find the appropriate balance for Nevada.”
According to the PUCN website, regulators opened a docket (17-01011) on January 3, 2017 “regarding a universally acceptable methodology for the valuation of net energy metering rooftop solar in Nevada to be used in future proceedings.” The docket, which is currently empty, could create a pathway to resolving Nevada’s ongoing solar policy feud.
Regulators in Arizona recently concluded a general proceeding on the value of rooftop solar, and decided not to extend retail-rate net metering.
On October 28, Tesla unveiled its new solar roof tiles. Few of us in attendance, if any, realized the solar roofing tiles were actual functional solar panels until Elon Musk said so. Sure, it’s a neat trick, but what’s the big deal?
Why does it matter that Tesla is making a fashion statement when the point is green power and a future where we aren’t so dependent on fossil fuels?
I’ve heard from some people suggesting that this is nothing new, because of other similar previous projects, including Dow Chemical’s canned solar shingle project, for example. Others are wary of Tesla’s ability to sway consumers with a solar solution that sounds like it’ll still be quite expensive in terms of up-front (or, with payment plans, deferred but net) installation costs. Still others aren’t clear on Tesla’s goals with this product, or how it fits into the company’s overall strategy relative to its electric vehicles.
Looks matterIt’s easy to dismiss the aesthetic import of how Tesla’s tiles look, but it’s actually important, and a real consideration for homeowners looking to build new homes or revamp their existing ones. The appearance of the tiles, which come in four distinct flavors (Textured Glass, Slate Glass, Tuscan Glass and Smooth Glass) is going to be a core consideration for prospective buyers, especially those at the top end of the addressable market with the disposable income available to do everything they can to ensure their home looks as good as it possibly can.
As with other kinds of technologies that are looking to make the leap from outlier oddity to mainstream mainstay, solar has a hurdle to leap in terms of customer perception. Existing solar designs, and even so-called attempts to make them more consistent with traditional offerings like the above-mentioned Dow Chemical project, leave a lot to be desired in terms of creating something that can be broadly described as good-looking.
It’s like the VR headset — Oculus and Google can make claims about their use of fabric making their headsets more approachable, but both are still just options somewhere along the curve of things with niche appeal. Neither is very likely to strike a truly broad audience of users as acceptable, and neither are solar panels that don’t succeed in completely disguising themselves as such.
Halo effectsTesla has been referred to as the Apple of the automotive world by more than a few analysts and members of the media, and if there’s one thing Apple does well, it’s capitalize on the so-called “halo effect.” This is the phenomenon whereby customers of one of its lines of business are likely to become customers of some of the others; iPhone buyers tend to often go on to own a Mac, for instance.
For Tesla, this represents an opportunity to jump-start its home solar business (which it’ll take on in earnest provided its planned acquisition of SolarCity goes through) through the knock-on effects of its brisk Tesla EV sales, including the tremendous pre-order interest for the Model 3. It’s strange to think of halo effects with big-ticket items, including vehicles and home energy systems, but Tesla’s fan base shares a lot of characteristics with Apple’s, and because they’re already purchasing at the level of an entire automobile, the frame of reference for what constitutes a valid halo purchase is actually appropriate.
Tesla, like Apple, scores well with customer satisfaction and brand commitment, and that’s something that no one trying to sell a solar home energy system at scale can match. As strange as it sounds, “buying a roof because you like your car” might be the new “buying a computer because you like your phone.”
Benefits beyond basic solarTesla’s solar tiles claim to be able to power a standard home, and provide spare power via the new Powerwall 2 battery in case of inclement weather or other outages. Musk says that the overall cost will still be less than installing a regular old roof and paying the electric company for power from conventional sources. But Musk’s claims about the new benefits of the new solutions don’t end there.
Tesla’s tiles will actually be more resilient than traditional roofing materials, including terra-cotta, clay and slate tiles. That’s because of the toughness of the glass used in their construction, according to Musk, who demonstrated the results of heavy impact from above, using a kettlebell as you can see in the video below.
This should make them theoretically more resistant to potential damage from elements like hail, or even debris like fallen tree branches. In fact, Musk also said at the event that the roofs should far outlast the standard 20-year life cycle common for roofing materials used today — by as much as two or even three times. Fewer roof tile replacements means more value, provided that’s not already factored into his estimates of the up-front cost.
A new kind of ecosystemThere’s also the possibility that the new tiles could become more efficient than existing solar panel options. Though in their current form, Musk says they achieve 98 percent of the efficiency of regular panels. He said that the company is working with 3M on coatings that could help light enter the panel and then refract within, letting it capture even more of the potential energy it carries to translate that into consumable power.
The announcement of Tesla’s solar tiles does not guarantee a sweeping solar power revolution; far from it, since Tesla says it won’t start installing the product in any consumer homes until next year, and a lot can happen between now and then. But Musk also said with full confidence that he ultimately expects the Powerwall to outsell Tesla cars, and easily so.
Solar roofing, Powerwall and Tesla cars taken together represent a new kind of ecosystem in consumer tech, one that carries a promise of self-sufficiency in addition to ecological benefits. Tesla has already tipped its hand with respect to how it intends to make vehicle ownership a revenue generator for its drivers, rather than a cost center. You can see how it might eventually do the same for solar power using solar tile roofs combined with Powerwalls installed in series, giving homeowners surplus power generation and storage with a few different potential options for monetizing the excess (including, say, acting as a supercharger station for other Teslas, or selling back to the grid).
It’s tempting to look at Tesla’s unveiling last week and think that it’s more of an incremental development in the home solar industry. But it’s more likely a step toward a future where individuals have more direct control over power generation, leading to a big difference in how we think about renewable energy.
October 03rd, 2016
By Peter Maloney, Gavin Bade | October 3, 2016 print
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Regulators revoked the retail rate incentives in December and upheld their ruling in a February appeal. Rooftop solar companies howled, with major developers ceasing operations in the state and appealing to Sandoval to intervene. The governor responded by convening the New Energy Task Force to help resolve the net metering debate and direct broader energy policy for the state.
Meanwhile, solar companies and utility NV Energy continued to negotiate terms that would "grandfather" 32,000 existing rooftop solar customers under the old retail rate. Last month, regulators approved a settlement to do just that, only days after the Nevada State District Court for Carson City overturned the higher rates for existing solar customers.
Solar companies may now set their sights on the reinstatement of retail rate net metering for new customers — at least for a time. Last week, Gov. Sandoval's task force approved a draft proposal calling for retail net metering until regulators can conclude Value of Solar dockets for the state's utilities. To help offset utility costs, the group also proposed a $25 minimum bill for solar customers.
That would put Nevada solar policy roughly back where it was before the controversial Dec. 2015 decision, which regulators made under a deadline from previous legislation. But this time, the regulators on the commission will be different.
On Oct. 3, two of Sandoval's former staffers will start work on the three-member PUC, replacing two commissioners who voted to end the net metering program last year. Reynolds replaces Paul Thomsen as chair of the commission, though Thomsen will stay on as a commissioner, while Drozdoff's appointment will be temporary.
The appointments come after Utility Dive broke the news in July that Gov. Sandoval would not reappoint Commissioner David Noble, who presided over the net metering decision. Before his exit, Noble said the decision to repeal the solar incentives was based on a lack of evidence presented by solar companies, not any regulatory animus toward their lobbying tactics, as some sources alleged.
Rooftop solar groups applauded the task force's recommendations, which also include calls to restart Clean Power Plan compliance preparations and support distributed resources in utility planning. Solar lobbyists told PV Magazine fixed charges will soon rise to $40 per month for solar customers without legislative action on the issue