SolarCity excluded from participating in Nevada grandfathering decision

The Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUCN) has denied SolarCity’s request to participate in proceeding on whether existing residential solar customers in Nevada should have their net metering schemes “grandfathered,” after the utility added fees to the scheme at the end of 2015.

The net metering saga in Nevada continued this week, as PUCN denied SolarCity’s request to participate in the decision making process regarding the fate of existing solar customers in the state. SolarCity has announced its “disappointment” with the decision, as the chief advocate for the grandfathering scheme, in the face of consistent flip-flopping from state utility NV Energy over the proposal.

PUCN issued the order in December 2015 to impose fees on residential solar customers – over 20,000 of them – who send excess energy from their rooftop systems back into the power grid, a move heavily supported by NV Energy. The customers had previously been compensated on a net metering scheme that was due to run for them for 20 years.

SolarCity immediately voiced opposition to the move, asking that customers with solar systems installed or customers who applied to install solar on or before 31 December 2015 remain under the original net metering scheme for 20 years. NV Energy in turn proposed the same deal for the existing customers, labelled the “grandfathering” of existing customers, but then details emerged that it discouraged PUCN from acting on the proposal.

NV Energy finally offered its support for the grandfathering scheme in July, five months after the initial decision, during which time the customers with existing solar units have been paying the increased fees. NV Energy’s delay in offering support for grandfathering has been criticized by various parties, including SolarCity.

SolarCity not to participate

SolarCity asked last week that it be included in the proceedings to consider the grandfathering initiate. However, on Monday, PUCN denied the request, citing that the outcome would not affect SolarCity’s existing contracts.

SolarCity has now voiced its disappointment with the decision, stating that it “deprives” Nevada solar customers and their chosen energy provider from having a voice in determining policies for existing solar customers, and that it “fully expects Nevada’s solar customers to be grandfathered.”

“The Presiding Officer has excluded the one party that the people of Nevada actually chose of their own volition, their solar provider,” said SolarCity Chief Policy Officer and former Consumer Advocate for the State of Nevada Jon Wellinghoff. “It makes no sense to exclude these Nevada ratepayers from the table given SolarCity has been fighting for the grandfathering of these soar customers since day one.”

The decision is seen by some as a clear discriminatory action by the state’s regulatory agency against the solar industry. NV Energy has certainly not got the trust of the solar industry after applying pressure on state regulators to repeal net metering in Nevada. The renewed show of support for the grandfathering initiative from the state utility could easily been seen as an effort to recover its public image after facing heavy criticism over its efforts to end net metering in the state.