Vote Solar and Earthjustice appeal Nevada court decision in bid to revive net metering

Solar advocates’ fight to revive net metering in Nevada is continuing on multiple fronts: regulatory, legislative and also in the courts. This afternoon Vote Solar and Earthjustice announced that they are taking their appeal of a September district court decision which rubber-stamped the destruction of the state’s net metering policy to the Nevada Supreme Court.

The September 12 ruling by Judge Wilson also ordered the grandfathering of solar customers who had applied for net metering before last December, when Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) eviscerated net metering in the state. PUCN ruled a week later to grandfather customers, in line with the court decision, but retained the new rules which have killed the state’s distributed solar market.

Vote Solar is taking aim at the district court ruling, which denied its request for judicial review of the changes to the policy for new customers. The judges ruling states that Vote Solar had not met the burden of proof to show that PUCN had broken the law, but the advocates contend that the court focused on grandfathering at the expense of other policy issues. “I feel like they cherry-picked one issue and left the rest undecided,” Vote Solar Interior West Regional Director Jessica Scott told pv magazine.

Action through Supreme Court will not be rapid. Vote Solar is hoping for a hearing on the case “as early as” December 2017.

In the interim, there are other avenues which are being pursued. A task force assembled by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval has recommended bringing back net metering with a minimum bill not to exceed $25. And while Vote Solar says that the Governor’s office is pushing bills to implement part of the task force recommendations, there is still a need for legislators to sponsor bills to this effect.

Additionally, there is currently a ballot measure on breaking up NV Energy’s monopoly in Nevada and implementing retail customer choice, and in Nevada if such ballot measures pass they then go to the legislature for implementation. Vote Solar’s Jessica Scott says if Measure 3 passes, it is likely that any bills to revive net metering will be folded into this measure.