Opponents to net metering regulations sue to block referendum | NevadaAppeal.com

Opponents to net metering regulations sue to block referendum

A group opposed to restoring more generous net metering rates for solar users has filed suit challenging the referendum that would do just that.

The challenge by Citizens for Solar and Energy Fairness filed in Carson District Court arguing the referendum petition is misleading, flawed and illegal.

“When Nevada voters seek to amend Nevada Statutes, they must go through the initiative process set forth in Article 19, Section 2 of the Nevada Constitution rather than the referendum process of Section 1,” the complaint states.

The difference, the group argues, is the initiative process adds the step of presenting the petition to the legislature if it raises enough signatures. If lawmakers refuse to act, then the petition would go on the ballot.

The practical difference is without having to go to the Legislature in 2017 the referendum would be on this coming November’s ballot. Going through the next Legislature would postpone that vote until November 2018.

The group points out the clear language of the Secretary of State’s rules for proposing ballot questions states a referendum can only approve or disapprove a statute, not amend it. An initiative petition can amend a statute, which, the complaint argues, is precisely what the No Solar Tax PAC proposes in its referendum. Their petition would remove statutory language that gives the Public Utilities Commission control over the process of setting net metering rates.

“Approval of this referendum will very likely result in non-solar customers of electric utilities in Nevada being unfairly forced to subsidize solar net metering owners potentially to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars over the coming decades,” the complaint states.

The complaint also argues the petition filed with the Secretary of State’s Elections Division also fails to explain that in its Description of Effect.

One reason the PUC cited for reducing the amount solar owners get from net metering is the analysis by staff and the Bureau of Consumer Affairs indicating non-solar customers are subsidizing those with solar on their homes.

Solar owners argue that changing the rates and the rules midstream is unfair to those who signed contracts and put up solar relying on the existing rates.