NV Energy and Solar Net Metering: The Past, Present and Future
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Understanding NV Energy’s past, present and future can shape the decision to add solar to a Nevada home. First, let’s dive into a brief history of the utility company that has, until recently, had a tempestuous relationship with the Nevada populace, particularly those in Reno.
NV Energy Rate History: Net Metering Changes
Nevada first started implementing net metering at the retail rate in 1997. Over the years, the policy has changed, allowing more renewable power production at affordable returns.
In the summer of 2015, like in past years, Nevada had reached its renewable energy cap. That May, legislators passed Senate Bill 374, moving the decision to the Nevada Public Utility Commission (PUCN).
In August of 2015, the PUCN extended the net metering rate through the end of the year, offering a glimmer of hope. However, when December came, they voted to implement NV Energy’s anti-solar energy proposal. This proposal allowed NV Energy to charge all solar customers 40 percent more for fixed fees and cut their excess generation metering rates by 50 percent.
Unfortunately, for legal reasons, Sandoval could not intervene in the PUCN’s decision. In response to the PUCN’s decision, Governor Sandoval requested that the Nevada Bureau of Consumer Protection file a motion to block the ruling.
The PUCN’s decision affected everyone with residential solar, regardless of the installation date. It forced solar companies to pull out of the state, leaving many without jobs. In response, rallies and protests ensued.
Nevada’s Current Net Metering Decision: Assembly Bill 405
Over the next two years, a war waged in Nevada over solar power. Finally, in March of 2017, the AB 405 received state legislative approval and Sandoval’s signature, turning Reno once again into a solar power hub.
This bill established protections for and ensured the rights of solar customers. Net metering will now stay even if Nevada decides to deregulate electricity since solar-powered homeowners now have protection against higher solar-related fees.
These new provisions secure solar for those who have and will invest in it from now on. Nevadans can breathe with ease, knowing that their solar investment will continue to work for them.
The Future of Solar for NV Customers: Why You Should Go Solar As Soon As Possible
For those who don’t have solar yet, there is no better time than the present. The AB 405 found a balance with NV Energy by instating energy rate tiers. The net metering rate decreases for every 80 megawatts of solar generation, decreasing the potential ROI on solar for those who wait. Below is the schedule that will impact users as listed on the Net Metering Page of Nevada Public Utilities’ Commission Website.
- TIER 1 – 95% of the retail rate: This was the net metering rate for those who agreed to net meter on or after the effective date of June 15, 2017, until the combined amount of applied-for and installed capacity of net metering systems signed up at this tier equaled 80 megawatts. Customers who signed up to net meter under this rate will keep it for a period of 20 years at the location where the net metering system was originally installed. Tier 1 reached 80 megawatts of combined applied-for and installed capacity in August 2018. (“Retail rate” is defined as the Base Tariff General Rate (BTGR), Base Tariff Energy Rate (BTER) and Deferred Energy Accounting Adjustment (DEAA) Rate combined. For more information on the BTGR, BTER and DEAA, please review the PUCN’s Northern Nevada Electric Rates & Charges fact sheet or Southern Nevada Electric Rates & Charges fact sheet.)
- TIER 2 – 88% of the retail rate: The net metering rate decreased to 88% of the retail rate after the combined applied-for and installed capacity of net metering systems under Tier 1 reached 80 megawatts. Customers who signed up to net meter under the Tier 2 rate will keep it for a period of 20 years at the location where the net metering system was originally installed. Tier 2 opened in August 2018 and closed in June 2019.
- TIER 3 – 81% of the retail rate: The net metering rate decreased to 81% of the retail rate after the combined applied-for and installed capacity of net metering systems under Tier 3 equaled 80 megawatts. Customers who signed up to net meter under the Tier 3 rate will keep it for a period of 20 years at the location where the net metering system was originally installed. Tier 3 opened in June 2019 and closed in June 2020.
- TIER 4 – 75% of the retail rate: The net metering rate decreased to 75% of the retail rate after the combined applied-for and installed capacity of net metering systems under Tier 3 equaled 80 megawatts. Customers who sign up to net meter under this rate will keep it for a period of 20 years at the location where the net metering system was originally installed. There is no capacity limit for Tier 4. The net metering rate will remain 75% of the retail rate unless modified by legislative action.
Nevada’s best year for solar produced 100 megawatts. This trend has continued, decreasing buyback rates by seven percent each year until it reaches the floor rate of 75 percent. Nevadans who purchase solar in one of these tiers will keep their net metering rate for 20 years.
Those who installed solar between June 2019 and June 2020 made it into the 81 percent rate for all their excess energy until 2040. Now the last tier at 75 percent has opened up and will stay there until modified by legislation. However, those who purchase battery backup won’t have to worry about net metering changes in the future.
All of Go Solar Group’s systems work with our levels of battery backup, decreasing worry about the solar array’s ability to integrate with batteries down the road. Regardless of whether the customer purchases a home battery or emergency battery backup, it provides peace of mind when the grid goes down, and that’s something everyone could use.