Solar backers say PUC net metering changes unconstitutional

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Solar advocates calling themselves the Alliance for Solar Choice has petitioned district court to throw out the Public Utilities Commission decision changing the net metering rules.

The petition for judicial review was filed in Carson District last week challenging the net metering changes as likely killing the net metering program.

“The commission’s action not only puts a stake in the heart of future rooftop solar development but it also unjustly applies the new rates to a new rate structure to customers who applied for, installed or contracted with the utility to connect rooftop solar units before Jan. 1, 2016,” the petition says.

Net metering customers get a reduction in their electric bills based on how much electric power their solar units feed back into the NV Energy grid. The commission changed those formulas, reducing that offset beginning this year and continuing over time. Solar advocates have charged the changes, particularly retroactive changes to existing solar customers, make it impossible for them to offset the cost of installing solar panels.

The changes, according to the petition, make, “future installation of such panels uneconomical through termination of the net energy metering program.”

Supporters of the changes including the Consumer Advocate argue that the old net metering rules were unfair because they made non-solar electric customers subsidize solar customers.

“The commission decision is a big win for the utility at the expense of Nevada rooftop solar customers,” the petition argues.

In addition, the petition says the PUC decision, “also led to massive layoffs by rooftop solar companies (which have fled Nevada) and put rooftop installers out of work.”

The petition asks the court to overturn the PUC’s changes to net metering rules as unconstitutional, exceeding the PUC’s authority and arbitrary and capricious.

“Unless relief is granted by this court, rooftop solar power generation may well cease to exist in Nevada,” he states.

The action filed in District Judge James Wilson’s court is the latest of several legal challenges to the PUC changes.


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