Legislation introduced in the Senate on Wednesday would restore fairness for residential rooftop solar investors, a move necessary to bring back an industry devastated by rate hikes a little over one year ago.
A decision by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada in December 2015 tripled costs for investors in residential solar and reduced compensation for the valuable energy solar homeowners sell back to the grid. Within a few weeks, some of the largest solar installers eliminated more than 2,500 Nevada jobs. The commission in October reversed the decision for homeowners who had already installed solar systems, or had contracts for solar installations. Then earlier this year the commission allowed as many as 1,250 customers in Northern Nevada to install rooftop solar at the older, more beneficial rate.
The legislation, introduced by Assemblyman Justin Watkins of Las Vegas, would reverse the PUCN’s solar rate hike and restore full retail rate net metering. Retail net metering is the law of the land in most of the United States and was the policy that allowed Nevada to become the No. 1 state in the country for solar jobs per capita.
Advocates for Nevada’s clean energy economy and community health applauded the legislation, which creates long-term stability for solar investors and a once-growing and thriving industry that employed thousands of Nevadans.
“Nevada has an opportunity to put itself back on top of the clean energy world and at the same time diversify our economy in a way that creates jobs for the hardworking families of Nevada. Restoring rooftop solar will mean more jobs for Nevadans and cleaner air and healthier communities,” said Andy Maggi, Executive Director, Nevada Conservation League. “We’re grateful for all the legislators working to make Nevada first in clean energy and conservation.”
“This bill would reinstate one of the most important state policies for empowering consumers to produce their own solar power,” said Jessica Scott, Regional Director, Interior West, Vote Solar. “Restoring Nevada’s net metering program will clear the way for Nevada families and businesses to choose solar energy, which in turn supports local jobs and improves energy security for the state. We thank Assemblyman Watkins for responding to the public call for action and his leadership to restore Nevada’s solar market.”
“This bold legislation would reverse the solar rate hike and restore net metering, which would make rooftop solar affordable and accessible to Nevadans once again,” said Travis Miller, Project Manager for Sunworks Solar and founding board member of the Great Basin Solar Coalition. “On behalf of the dozens of solar workers we represent, and the thousands of Nevadans who want the opportunity to go solar in the future, we urge the Legislature to quickly pass this bill to bring solar back to Nevada.”
“Legislation to bring solar back to Nevada will create well-paying local jobs and support local Nevada companies who were the hardest hit by the solar rate hike, while giving customers the freedom to choose affordable clean energy,” said Louise Helton, Vice President of 1 Sun Solar Companies. “We applaud Assemblyman Watkins for his leadership.”