More funds for charging stations, solar panels in Nevada

More money has been authorized to build electric car charging stations on Nevada highways and also to provide grants to help consumers put solar panels on their homes.

The Nevada Public Utilities Commission on Wednesday approved the annual plan of NV Energy for its $295 million renewable energy program.

Commissioner Bruce Breslow said Gov. Brian Sandoval wants Nevada to be the first state in the West to have an entire electric charging system on its highways and the goal is 2020.

The plan calls for NVEnergy to set aside $15 million of the total to provide incentives to companies that want to build these roadside stations and also to install them in apartments and work places. The money could be used to convert fleet vehicles such as buses and trucks from diesel and gasoline fuel to electric.

Breslow emphasized electric vehicles were the future of transportation.

NV Energy will work with the governor’s Office of Energy in deciding the locations of charging stations on the Nevada Electric Highway. Ratepayers can apply for incentives to build more. A number of companies agreed to the stipulation.

Roman Borisov, assistant general counsel for the commission, said the average grant for a homeowner to install a solar system will be around $1,000 in the Sierra Pacific Power Co. territory in Northern Nevada and $1,300 for a homeowner in the Nevada Power Co. Las Vegas service territory. The federal government also currently allows a 30 percent tax break for the cost of these installations.

Jessica Diss, also an assistant general counsel, said the solar incentives money will be used to offset the initial cost of rooftop solar systems and is separate from the credit solar homeowners receive for excess power they supply to the power companies.

NV Energy said in its application to the PUC the solar home program is exploding. From August 2016 to May 17 in 2017, it received an average of 19 applications a month. Now the number of applications has risen to 620 a month.

Borisov said while the Solar Incentives Program money will help all homeowners wishing to go solar, the $1 million per year Low Income Solar Energy Program is specifically designed to help low income residents. Those funds will subsidize solar installations on low income housing projects and other entities serving low income customers, including homeless shelters.

Breslow said higher incentive payments will be available to those who install fast charging stations that may fill an auto in 20 minutes or less instead of the units that take hours.

He said installing these charging stations across Nevada will help relieve the electric vehicle owner of anxiety of getting to the next fueling station over the wide stretches of roads in the state.

The PUC stipulation said NV Energy couldn’t use any of the $15 million in incentives to build its own charging stations.

Also approved were first-ever stipends for small and large battery storage units, and on-going incentives for wind and dam units that produce power.

The stipulation was signed by NV Energy, the staff of the PUC, the Bureau of Consumer Protection, Office of Energy, Nevadans for Clean Affordable Reliable Energy, Tesla, Sunrun, ChargePoint and E Meter.

PUC Chairman Joe Reynolds said a few years ago it would’ve been near impossible to get all these parties to agree.

The order takes effect July 1.


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