Solar net metering petition not on ballot unless Supreme Court says so

Secretary of State of Elections Deputy Wayne Thorley said Thursday the petition seeking to restore net metering rates for solar customers wouldn’t be on the November ballot until the Nevada Supreme Court rules it’s a valid petition.

That’s because the district court ruled in the casethe petition was not a valid referendum because it sought to repeal only certain sections of the bill passed by the 2015 Legislature requiring a review of net metering.

That ruling was appealed by the Bring Back Solar Alliance but the Supreme Court has yet to rule and, until it does, the district court decision stands.

“Right now, it’s not going to go on the ballot until we get approval from the court,” Thorley said.

But he said until the General Election overseas and absentee ballots have to be printed and mailed out — essentially 45 days before the Nov. 8 election — his office will process the petition in anticipation it will be on the ballot.

“We’re going to go all the way until right before putting it on the ballot,” he said.

That means verifying the petition has enough valid signatures and otherwise preparing it for voters.

The petition was filed after the Public Utilities Commission changed the rules for solar net metering customers, sharply reducing the amount they get for feeding power back into the NVEnergy grid. They say that makes their solar systems not viable and, effectively, ends the net metering program.

But opponents calling themselves Citizens for Solar and Energy Fairness say the old net metering rates make them subsidize customers with rooftop solar systems. They convinced the district court the petition is invalid as a referendum. The ruling stated the referendum “does not present a yay or nay vote on a part of a statute but rather systematic changes to various portions and words of the statute in a piecemeal approach.” Therefore, the ruling states, the petition isn’t a referendum as provided for by the Nevada Constitution but an attempt to amend the statute which would require an initiative instead.

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