Since the December 2015 decision of the Nevada Public Utilities Commission to lower the amount paid to net metering customers from nearly 12 cents per kilowatt hour down to 2.6 cents for residential rooftop customers over the next 15 years, there have been pleas to grandfather the existing customers under the old rate. On February 12, 2016, made the following statement to the PUCN against grandfathering.
My name is Craig Ruark, and I have been a resident of Las Vegas since 1975. I am not an architect or an engineer; I am a journalist. But, I am also one of the few NON-technical LEED Accredited Professionals by the U.S. Green Building Council. I have been writing about environmental issues since 2008 and have been following this political folly on solar energy since the introduction of SB374 in the legislature.
A few months back I spoke before this commission to urge you to make your decision on the new guidelines for the purchase of residential rooftop solar generated energy by NV Energy, based on what is called the “Value of Solar” (VOS) tariff.
For NV Energy to pay nearly 12 cents per kilowatt hour for residential rooftop solar is probably too much. But decreasing the amount down to 2.6 cents per kilowatt-hour is a huge underestimate of the true value of rooftop solar. I would say that the true valuation is closer to 10 cents than it is to six cents per hour.
Currently, there are over 17,000 families that have installed rooftop solar on their homes. Those families represent less than 1% of the total number of families served by NV Energy and its subsidiary’s.
For the past few months, we have seen hundreds of these everyday people, just like the people in attendance today, as they stepped up to this microphone and pleaded their hearts out, many with tears in their eyes, for justice. These passionate people told stories about how their passion for the environment and assessment that going solar was the right thing to do in the fight against global warming. And they are right! We need to set up a system that makes good economic sense for more people to join these environmental pioneers and start covering more roofs throughout the valley.
That is why I am speaking again today. To ask you NOT to grandfather these people in for the next twenty years.
NV Energy has it figured out. They grandfather these current customers for the next 20 years, and these 17,000 families go home satisfied and vindicated. They got their solar system and their money; they are fat and happy, and you never hear from them again for fear of upsetting the apple cart.
Meanwhile, we still have a problem with global warming and NV Energy still wants to build more infrastructure in order to continue to line their pockets.
I don’t want to see these people grandfathered because I want them to be lean and hungry. I want to see them continuing to fight for the rights of the rest of Nevada’s population to be able to install solar on their roofs. I want to see them continue to fight for a fair compensation that will allow for a reasonable payback on the return of their investment and continue to lower their energy costs. I want to see them with tears in their eyes and passion in their hearts as they talk about the environment.
Without the continued voices of the current solar customers, NV Energy will be able to quietly let this small 1% ride out their solar contracts for the next 20 years. And without opposition, NV Energy will be able to effectively make it financially impossible for other families to afford rooftop solar and water down their utility base.
We need to look for a fair compensation—not a payoff for silence.