Expanded Solar Access In Nevada: AB 465
Nevada passed legislation to expand solar access. This, however, doesn’t mean everyone in Reno can get solar. This bill is, however, another step in the right direction.
To allow solar to reach more people, the AB 465 was presented. It was proposed in March of 2019 and signed by the Governor in June of 2019. This bill, however, isn’t the first attempt at expanding the reach of solar. Other solar-related bills have come to Nevada’s legislative stage over the years.
Solar Energy Situation in Nevada
Nevada has a history of solar access legislation attempts and successes. Although, the most well covered, the war over solar net metering is not the only solar legislation.
The legislature recently passed a bill that increased Nevada’s renewable energy portfolio. Nevada has also received push back when the community solar bill 392 was proposed in 2017.
Although many agreed it was good, the timing was off. This bill didn’t pass because it came right before the vote on open-market electricity.
Open-access utilities would have given Nevadans more energy options. Increasing this choice at the same time as adding more community solar was deemed as too much at once.
The Governor also stated that the bill would have given community solar an unfair advantage. This is because they aren’t regulated in the same way as electric utilities.
Explanation of the AB 465
Although not getting SB 465 passed was a disappointment, this wasn’t the end of the fight. AB 465 is another stab at improving solar accessibility.
This bill focuses on increasing solar access for those that can’t qualify for solar. The twist is this is being done through utilities instead of community solar. It asks utilities like NV Energy to create expanded solar access programs.
The issue that some solar activists have with this bill is that it doesn’t promote community solar. Instead, it makes utility-scale renewables more appealing.
This bill only allows between 3 and 10 community solar projects per service territory. Each of these community solar projects has to be under 1,000 megawatts. All solar generation also needs to be owned and operated by the utility.
Although this is disheartening, not everyone sees this new bill as all bad. For some, it is seen as a stepping stone toward increasing community solar projects in the future.
Who Qualifies for Nevada’s Expanded Solar Access
The SB 465 specifies that these programs need 25 percent of participants to be low-income. Those who can’t qualify for residential solar can also qualify for this program.
Some factors exclude people from residential solar. These include low credit, not enough unshaded space and renting/leasing the residence.
These qualifications make is difficult for some to install solar. However, if the person can qualify, it is cheaper to purchase a solar array.
This is because residential solar is cheaper than utility company rates. Also, these solar access programs are only required to reduce fees for low-income participants. This means that those that aren’t low-income but can’t qualify for residential solar will potentially pay more.