Nevada Utility Continues Rooftop Solar War, Opposes Net Metering
By Climate Denier Roundup
In Nevada, the utility NV Energy is fighting against rooftop solar, specifically opposing the net metering policy that gives rooftop solar users credit for the power their panels produce. They’ve been releasing 30-second ads, with the most recent alleging that solar subsidies would send a billion Nevada tax dollars to out-of-state solar companies.
So how did we get to this point, where outlandish claims are the subject of ads? Last year, the state’s Public Utilities Commission slashed the net metering rates, cutting how much NV Energy paid to solar power producers by 75 percent. This led to an exodus of solar companies from the state and came as a major blow to rooftop solar customers. In response, solar advocates are pushing for a ballot initiative that would restore the rates and in the process of the fight, NV Energy offers yet another shining example of how the dark art of propaganda works by co-opting language to hide its true intentions.
Like most utilities, NV Energy doesn’t have a sunny outlook on the competition from distributed rooftop solar. After the solar industry and clean energy advocates started to push back on the rate change, last February, NV Energy hired an attorney to create a PAC to lobby to prevent any rollbacks to the solar credit cuts. And like its counterpart in Florida named “Consumers for Smart Solar,” they chose a rosy name that conveys the opposite of what it really is: Citizens for Solar and Energy Fairness. Opposing policies that pay solar users for the power it produces hardly seems fair.
Their main contention is that non-solar customers shouldn’t subsidize those with solar, which on its face does make sense. But when one factors in the benefits of solar power to the grid, public health and the planet, as Solarcity and the NRDC did, a different picture comes to light. It turns out the clean energy these solar customers are delivering provides between $7-$14 million in net benefits, every single year. Even if you assume that such a figure is a little high, that’s still a huge return on investment.
It’s worth reiterating that’s a “net” benefit, meaning the perks of net metering provide as much as $14 million in benefits above and beyond the increase in power bills that the site claims residents will pay (and it oddly contradicts itself on that, claiming it’s both $10-12 million and $16 million, on the same page…)
So net metering nets Nevada a net benefit, despite what’s said on the net by solar’s shady oppon-nets.