The Nevada Supreme court dealt its state solar industry a blow Aug. 4 after denying a ballot measure to halt recent rate hikes for solar users.
Previous to the court’s denial, the chances for the measure to pass had looked promising, with it gathering more than double the number of needed signatures to place a referendum on the November ballot.
According to FoxNews, until this year net-metering subsidies for Nevada’s 17,000 homeowners using solar totalled an annual $16 million.
A state commission subsequently decided that since the state was a approaching a cap on the number of net metering participants, it would allow the Nevada Power and Utilities Commission to enact new rates for rooftop solar customers.
Last spring the state legislature voted accept the PUC rates and end subsidies, nearly tripling fixed monthly fees for solar customers from $12.75 to $38.51.
“What started as a legislative policy to kickstart the industry, now 18 years later, it’s time for that industry to stand on its own two feet,” Fox News quoted Paul Thomsen, chairman of Nevada’s Public Utility Commission.
If there is a silver lining, however, it’s that Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval has requested that next year’s bill “grandfather” existing customers back to their old rates. NV Energy took similar steps, pursuing an effort to do the same through the PUC.
In other words, those Nevada citizens that seized the opportunity to convert their homes to solar before the subsidies were ended, will still get to enjoy the low, fixed energy rates promised to them by the state.
As for the fate of the Nevada homeowners that weren’t quick enough to secure the grandfathered rates in time, advocates are looking to take a more long term approach to winning back subsidies by going through the state legislator.