As the winds of change catch the world by storm, many have tried to step in the way of renewable energy, solar in particular. Change, in general, causes commotion no matter whether it’s for better or worse. But when you are disturbing multi-billion dollar companies and power-holding entities, opposition is commonplace.
Solar has been around much longer than most in the fossil fuel industry would have liked it to be, but the public is beginning to side with solar companies more and more frequently, and Nevada’s very own, Brian Sandoval, is one of the politicians behind this positive movement.
In December of 2015 NV Energy put up barriers to the progress of solar power in Reno, Las Vegas, and other major Nevada cities. This has, however, since been abated. Changing the net metering policy, however, wasn’t the shocking news. When NV Energy got the PUC to agree to their new net metering terms, it didn’t just make solar unattractive. The PUC changes also forced existing solar customers to go back to nonrenewable energy.
Although it was one with numerous unintended consequences, this decision hurt everyone.
Sandoval and NV Solar Power Changes Save the Day
Because lawmakers handed this decision to the PUC, Sandoval could not get involved. Although it took two years for Brian Sandoval to make changes from day one, he made his opinion known, and fought hard for the end result for solar without losing sight of the goal, or getting discouraged by the difficulties he faced.
Three Solar-related Bills Written into Law
In February of 2016, Sandoval ordered a task force to re-evaluate renewable energy. Their task was to recommend policies that would promote renewable energy in Nevada, such as solar energy. In June of 2017, nearly 1 year later, Sandoval signed three pro-solar bills into law. The Assembly Bill 405 reinstated fair and favorable net metering policy for solar-powered homes from Reno to Carson City and Las Vegas. This bill also put in place important protections for residential solar customers.
- Senate Bill 146 implanted more regulations on distributed resource plans presented by utilities. These plans proposed increases to their supply of electricity or decrease demand. The bill also increased the time the PUC has to make revisions and approve these plans.
- The Senate Bill 150 requires Nevada PUC to make yearly renewable energy goals, which solar power can help facilitate. This will instill a future that promotes renewable energy.
Three Other Energy Bills Sandoval Approved
Three other bills were later also signed into law. The Assembly Bill 223 has directed 5% of efficiency program spending to low-income programs.
The Senate Bill 204 has required utilities to look into the need for energy storage. Lastly, Senate Bill 65 mandates Nevada PUC make energy resources that reduce cost and demand a priority. Before Sandoval’s term is up in 2019 he plans to make further progress with his support of battery backup.
Sandoval Beliefs: What Lead to His Heroic Acts?
News reports make it seem like the people’s upheaval over the 2015 PUC decision is what caused this change, but was it, really? As a moderate Republican, Sandoval does and has views that dip into both parties. Although his desire to support the people may have been part of it, he also has a past of making radical changes, and on both sides of the political spectrum.
Sandoval’s Success As Nevada’s Governor – A Major Success for Nevada Solar Power
By in large, the majority of Sandoval’s work has been to protect people’s rights and provide jobs to Nevadans. He has worked with the school districts to get rid of tenure. This has created an environment where the best teachers have a chance to make a difference, and those who’ve lost their ambition don’t become too comfortable.
As Governor he has worked to increase healthcare coverage and support veterans. Sandoval has also changed Nevada’s approach to economic development, a larger scope of his policy affect that includes solar energy. These changes have brought new companies to the state creating job opportunities.
In 2014, Sandoval gave tax breaks and subsidies to Tesla. In exchange, they built their battery factory in Nevada. This deal was a large part of Sandoval’s plan to bring jobs to Nevada, and it worked marvelously.
As the counterpart to battery backup and the provider of thousands of jobs in Nevada Solar makes sense. With Sandoval’s goals in mind, his decision to support solar seems like a given.
What these Solar Changes Mean for Nevadans
Sandoval’s changes have made solar not only an option for homeowners, but a viable one at that. With the new laws that are now in place, solar has the potential for growth again.
A Closer Look at Nevada’s New Net Metering Policy
Although all these new laws will affect solar in some way, Assembly Bill 405 has the greatest. This is because this bill has reinstated net metering.
All solar customers will now get 95% of the retail price for their excess energy. To accommodate NV Energy and wean solar off of incentives this rate will decrease.
For every 80 megawatts, renewable generators will get paid 7% less for their excess power. Based on past growth new Nevada solar customers will end up getting paid less each year.
Is There a Chance Of Another Bait and Switch? We Wouldn’t Count on It
Given the states recent history concern of whether this is a lasting option is valid. Thankfully this bill also has protective measures for solar customers.
Once you have signed up for residential solar in Reno or Carson City, you will get that rate for the next 20 years. That means that for roughly the life of your solar array you will receive the same rates. Solar customers are also now no longer put in a different class by utility companies. This means utilities now have to charge you at the same rates as they do their other customers.
All Nevada solar customers now also have the right to self-generate via solar power. This means that you don’t have to pay for the energy you are no longer taking off the grid. If you get battery backup this can become extremely advantageous.