Nevada Solar PUC Guide for Consumers

Nevada Solar Policy
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Nevada PUC Solar Guide

Nevada has continued to grow as a major solar state for the past several years. This is partly due to Nevada’s very solar-friendly environment. The other big part is that Nevada has been enacting increasingly pro-solar policies for several years now. With the minor hiccup in Nevada’s net metering laws behind us, we can focus on the increasingly bright solar industry in Nevada.

The Nevada solar scene has expanded over the past decade in part thanks to the efforts of the Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUC). From 2010 to the end of June 2021, the PUC ran the Solar Energy Systems Incentive Program (“Solar Program”). This program was established to facilitate the spread of solar energy in three major areas:

  1. School property
  2. Public and other property
  3. Private residential and small business property

There were other benefits to the Solar Program as well, all of which were meant to grow solar outside of big businesses. 

How the PUC Grew Solar in Nevada

 The rise of cheap solar manufacturing techniques has helped the prices for solar drop significantly. Alongside that, the incentive programs that have been implemented since 2010 have been instrumental in the spread of residential solar power. Solar incentives can take many forms, from tax credits to rebates to net metering

Specifics of the PUC’s Solar Program

When it came to the Solar Program, the incentive offered was simple: utilities were required to offer rebates to homeowners who installed qualifying solar module systems. Specifically, $255,270,000 was allowed for rebates. The money for rebates came from a program called the Renewable Energy Program Rate (REPR), which was a monthly charge added to the average homeowner’s power bill. 

Trading Renewable Energy Credits

In return, the portfolio energy credits (PEC) that were generated by the homeowner’s solar array would then be given to the utility. One PEC would be generated by a renewable energy production facility, such as a rooftop solar installation after the facility had produced one kilowatt hour’s worth of electricity. 

The credits are part of Nevada’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. The portfolio dictates how much of the state’s energy production needs to come from renewable sources in a given year. Utilities are included in the standard and must have a percentage of their products come from renewables. 

That’s where the credits come in. PECs can be bought and sold, so utilities can purchase them as a way to have residential solar arrays produce renewable energy for them by proxy. As the share of renewables in a utility’s portfolio gets larger, the portfolio is forced to dedicate more of its resources to purchasing renewable energy credits or constructing new renewable energy facilities. 

Impact of the PUC Solar Program

In a way, the REPR was a way to bring the community together in support of solar. The slight rise in power bills was pooled to promote homeowners to go solar. Clean energy came to Nevada neighborhoods, schools and small businesses through this program. 

Additionally, the PEC credit trading system has helped boost renewable energy percentages for utility portfolios. This is useful for all parties involved. Homeowners get incentives to go solar without a high upfront cost. Utilities get to spread their renewable energy production over multiple systems. The state government gets closer to its renewable energy goals.

Other Incentives for Nevada Solar Homeowners

Along with the Solar Program, the PUC recommends many other incentives and plans for potential solar homeowners. These incentives can come from the federal or state governments or from local utilities. There are two main incentives that Nevadan homeowners can qualify for: net metering and the federal solar tax credit (ITC).

Net Metering in Nevada

Net metering is one of the chief ways that solar homeowners can save money. Net metering is where any extra electricity that your solar panels produce is sent back onto the power grid. In exchange, you receive credits on your power bill. When you use power from the grid, such as at night, then the credits will cover those costs.

Nevada net metering rates are good compared to many other places in the country. NV Energy, in particular, offers several net-metering plans for solar homeowners. Some installations will qualify for a 1-to-1 net metering rate, also known as the retail rate. The retail rate is the best that any solar homeowner can hope for. 

Not every homeowner will qualify for the retail rate. Most will qualify for a reduced rate. There are somewhat less valuable rates going down to 75 percent of the retail rate. This is still quite strong, however, as many utilities only offer the avoided cost rate of around 30 percent. Nevada net metering, therefore, is some of the best in the country.

The Federal Solar Tax Credit

The federal ITC is the other main incentive that Nevadans can apply for. The tax credit is based on a percentage of the total cost of your solar installation. It is then applied to your federal income tax and can roll over for successive years. The federal solar tax credit usually ends up being worth several thousand dollars. 

The federal solar tax credit is the major incentive available for potential solar homeowners. For that reason, Go Solar Group does not recommend that those who do not owe federal income taxes go solar. They will miss out on too many potential savings and will pay too much money for their solar installation. 

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