Net metering rules may change Nevada’s green energy strategy

January 31, 2016

CARSON CITY — Neva­da gov­ern­ment and busi­ness lead­ers may have to shift at least part of their estab­lished eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment focus from renew­able ener­gy to oth­er oppor­tu­ni­ties if new net meter­ing rules dri­ve the rooftop-solar busi­ness out of Neva­da as pre­dict­ed by indus­try offi­cials.

Rooftop solar was only very recent­ly iden­ti­fied as a pri­or­i­ty for Gov. Bri­an Sandoval’s Office of Ener­gy. A rooftop-solar ini­tia­tive imple­ment­ed in 2012 had a goal of get­ting 5 per­cent of all sin­gle fam­i­ly homes and busi­ness­es in Neva­da to use rooftop-solar sys­tems. The office also had a goal of seek­ing to make solar elec­tric­i­ty cost-com­pet­i­tive with oth­er forms of ener­gy.

The office received a $765,000 grant in 2011 for its Neva­da Rooftop Solar Ini­tia­tive from the U.S. Depart­ment of Ener­gy.

The ini­tial tar­get mar­ket was 25,000 homes and busi­ness­es, with 80 per­cent being res­i­den­tial and 20 per­cent com­mer­cial. The goal was for rooftop solar to be installed on 1 per­cent of the tar­get mar­ket in 2013 and 2 per­cent by 2015, with an increase in the rate of rooftop solar in the tar­get mar­ket by 20 per­cent each year start­ing in 2016, accord­ing to a news release announc­ing the grant in Decem­ber 2011.

Cur­rent­ly, there are 15,728 inter­con­nect­ed net meter­ing cus­tomers at Neva­da Pow­er Co. in South­ern Neva­da, and 2,536 cus­tomers with Sier­ra Pacif­ic in North­ern Neva­da.

The ener­gy office has also pro­vid­ed more than $8 mil­lion in var­i­ous grants and loans, which have specif­i­cal­ly ben­e­fit­ed rooftop-solar projects and oth­er net-metered solar projects through­out Neva­da. Some of the projects include the city of Las Vegas, the Desert Research Insti­tute, Esmer­al­da Coun­ty and the cities of Car­lin, Ely and West Wen­dover, among oth­ers.

But Ang­ie Dyke­ma, direc­tor of the Office of Ener­gy, said the 5 per­cent goal iden­ti­fied for the rooftop-solar pro­gram was relat­ed specif­i­cal­ly to the DOE grant.

It was not an office goal, not a goal of our agency, but the grant goal,” she said.

The grant has since expired, and the pro­gram is no longer high­light­ed on the agency’s web­site, where it had been post­ed until just a few weeks ago.

The office did just recent­ly announce that $467 mil­lion in state incen­tives, grants and loans have been pro­vid­ed to devel­op the solar indus­try in Neva­da.

The agency said the funds have ben­e­fit­ed both small- and large-scale projects and pro­vid­ed more than 2,900 ver­i­fi­able per­ma­nent and tem­po­rary con­struc­tion jobs. This is part of a con­tin­u­ing effort to meet and exceed Nevada’s aggres­sive Renew­able Port­fo­lio Stan­dard, which requires the state’s ener­gy port­fo­lio to be com­prised of 25 per­cent of renew­able ener­gy sources by 2025.

The office has helped gen­er­ate a huge eco­nom­ic impact in the solar indus­try in Neva­da, par­tic­u­lar­ly with large-scale solar projects, Dyke­ma said.

To read the full arti­cle, vis­it Las Vegas Review-Jour­nal.