Letters to the NV PUC about Solar

November 10th, 2015

The rules for new NV Energy Net Metering customers are going to be determined before the end of the year by the Public Utilities Commission (PUCN). We asked our customers (existing and future) to write a short letter to the PUCN about the benefits that they have seen and experienced. Here is what they have written:


  • Commissioners:

I am writing this letter out of concern for the future of renewable energy for consumers in our state.  I have been involved in Solar since the 1970’s.  I have been an instructor in Solar Photovoltaic Technology Training at Associated Builders and Contractors and The College of Southern Nevada for the past 8 years.   Together my partner Jeremy White and I have trained over 2500 Nevada OSHA Certified PV Installers.

NV Energy has proposed in their recent docket a series of rate and net metering changes including demand charges.   This NV Energy Proposal would mean the elimination of any competition in the roof-top solar industry here in Nevada.  As you can see in the attached chart, the energy savings for a typical new solar customer (NEM2 and beyond) would go from a net savings of $1,271 per year to a net cost of $1,534 – in other words after a customer installed a solar system his net savings would be a minus $263.  A similar scenario with the Salt River Project in Arizona resulted in the elimination of the entire roof-top industry.

The PUCN staff made their own proposal which was almost as severe as NVE.   Following the staff proposal the payback for our model 5.5kW DC solar system would be increased from 7 years to 32 years.  Very few consumers would be interested in that long a payback.

My recommendation is quite simple.   Base the rate for solar consumers on the % of installed systems as we have been doing all along since 1997 when the Nevada Legislature initiated Net Metering and the 1% cap.  Keep net metering as it is.  Here is how it would work:

  • Add a solar tariff to the monthly bill of a new solar customer based on the actual additional cost to the other ratepayer base that NVE can demonstrate being affected by the new solar installation.
  • Start off with the real cost to the affected base by solar offset of 3-5%. Currently anyone in NEM2 would have to pay that cost as a monthly tariff until the solar offset reached 5%.  Any Solar Tariff of over $20-$25 would place a significant impediment on solar leasing and would therefore reduce the growth of the industry to a manageable level for the power grid and make the process below very feasible.
  • At that time customers would be in NEM3 from 5% to 10% and when we reached the 10% threshold, the new NEM4 would kick in from 10% to 15% and so on.
  • The solar rooftop industry would then have a predictable plan that could be in place for ten years and beyond that is continually monitored by the PUCN and implemented so that no customer can ever be ever hurt by not having purchased a solar PV system.

I believe if the PUCN implemented this simple strategy we would continue to see the steady growth of the roof-top solar industry here in Nevada at a manageable and sustainable rate.  The current roof-top companies would likely compete with NV Energy sales or leasing of solar systems which would be a huge financial win for the Nevada rate-payers.   No current rate-payer would ever be hurt by the increasing installation of solar systems.  As battery technology improves over the next decade, more consumers could realize even greater energy cost savings without negative impact on the grid.  This would be a win for the consumers of our state and make it possible for solar companies to stay in the marketplace.

Sincerely,     Residential Solar Customer


  • Dear PUCN,

It has brought to our attention that in the next few weeks you are going to rule on Net Metering for Nevada Energy solar customers.  We installed our roof top solar  two years ago in November.  We installed it knowing we were going to purchaser an electric car (Tesla) which we did in February of 2014.  I worked for 20 years as the Energy Manager for Clark County School District, and promoted roof top solar panels for our schools and before I retired in 2006 many of our schools had PV solar systems installed.

We see PV roof top solar as the pivotal package for home energy conservation including:

  1. Nest thermostats
  2. Sky Tubes (sky lights), we have 11 sky tubes through out our home, less lights to turn on during the day
  3. Solar on our roof to heat our swimming pool
  4. Solar attic fans
  5. Planted trees on west side of our home for shade during hot summer months
  6. Rolladen Shutters for energy efficiency and security
  7. Wood plantation shutters to help conserve cooling in summer and heating in winter
  8. R60 insulation blown into attic

The PV Solar Panels installed by Robco Electric are everything we hoped they would be.  It has reduced our monthly electric bills to paying a monthly account handling charge.  They are trouble free, I proudly take visitors to our south facing back yard and point out our roof top solar panels.

We have lived in Southern Nevada (Las Vegas) for 45 years, raised three boys and now have 6 grand children here.  We worry about their future, we teach them to be responsible consumers.  We want them to be energy conscious. NEVADA, is one of the most sunny states in the continental USA.  It seems a shame that everyone doesn’t have solar panels on their roof, instead of wasting natural resources (natural gas, coal, etc) to power our homes.  Money makes the world go round and we have chosen to invest ours in solar energy for out home and even took out a second mortgage to pay for it because we can.   We should not be penalized for doing what is right.

Sincerely,  Residential Solar Customer


  • PUCN,

I recently purchased a solar panel system for my home, and I’ve learned that net metering has come under fire because nonsolar customers face higher bills to subsidize those who have solar panels. How is this possible?

I will still be an NV Energy customer who pays all the basic service charges. It is also my understanding that the energy I feed into the grid will be credited at 5.5 cents per kilowatt hour, but when I need that same power, I will need to pay 11 cents per kWh. I compare this with depositing $100 in the bank, then going back the next day and having bank employees inform you that your $100 is only worth $50. How is this possible?

I don’t wish to create an unfair burden on any others. I am not trying to compete with NV Energy. I just want to get the proper credit for the power I produce and use.

Residential Solar Customer


 

  • Distinguished Commissioners

Thank you in advance for your time considering my recommendation for a new Net-Metering rate plan.

Below is my suggested rate plan for Net-Metering:

Primarily my recommendation is:

  • Simple to implement
  • Fair (to everyone)
  • Cannot be scammed to avoid paying the tariff
  • And best of all it is explainable

My suggested rate plan for Net-Metering is to charge PV system owners 1 cent for every KWH that is generated.  This is already shown on NV Energy statement as “KWHG”

There is only one benefit that PV system owners can realistically claim is universal to all NV Energy paying customers.  That one advantage is that collectively all of the PV systems in Nevada represent a source of energy during the peak hours of the 4 peak months that is worth 100,s of millions of dollars to NV Energy.  (Directly translating to lower a rate [avoided increases] for NV Energy paying customers)

New PV system owners should pay for the privilege of connecting their systems to the power grid.  The amount of this charge should reflect the fact that these PV systems are a great benefit to the power grid at the time, when it is the most highly stressed to deliver  energy to all the customers in Nevada.

From Sep, 2014 to Oct, 2015, our PV system generated 15311 kilowatts.  My suggested Net-Metering rate plan would have resulted in our being charged an access or usage tariff of $153.11 for the year or about $13 per month.  A customer with a PV system 1/2 the size of ours would pay 1/2 of this and a customer with a system twice that size would pay twice as much.

There are going to be 1000’s of possible ways to determine a monthly “access” or “usage” tariff charge. As example:  Amount due = ((((KWHD – KWHR) – (KWHA) * KWHN) / KWHG) * 2 1/2 %) * $.01

Before I retired I spent 46 years working for the federal government.  My experience is that no matter what you suggest at some point you are going to have to explain it to people, most of whom “don’t want to understand”.

My suggestion is simple, fair and explainable, new PV owners will be charged an “access” or “usage” tariff that represents the “value of the connection to the grid” offset by the “value that the PV system(s) brings to managing Peak power delivery”.

Amount due = KWHG * $.01

Note: Energy during the peak hours of the 4 peak months so treasured by NV Energy that they are willing to sell rate plan A (TOU) customers power at 1/2  price eight months of the years, if they avoid using energy during peak hours.

Again thank you very much for your time,

Residential Solar Customer


  • Gentlepersons:

I want to express my support for roof top solar panels as a means to generate clean energy. I have never heard of a bird being killed by a roof top solar panel system as has been reported for systems using mirrors to heat fluid to turn turbines such as the one located just on the California side of the state line near Primm, Nevada.

A roof top system uses only locations which are not otherwise used for productive purposes except to keep adverse weather out of the covered structure. Therefore, rooftops are underutilized−already−disturbed−areas located right on top of power customers who use the power generated without effecting anything or anyone as opposed to taking raw land out in the natural environment that is better utilized for natural vegetation and/or for wild animal habitat.

On the down side of the matter, one must recognize that solar panels do not generate power at night or when the sunlight is restricted by heavy clouds and these shortcomings require supplemental power during those periods.  Over a period of time, say a year, most properly designed solar systems will generate enough power for the structure using them if there is a means of saving the excess power generated on sunny days and then feeding it back into the structure during those periods of shortage. This can be accomplished by using a battery or by connecting to a large distribution system such as Nevada Energy and using a net meter to keep track of the power exchange. Once a net meter is installed on a system the readings are fed back to Nevada Energy without any person visiting an individual residence so this process requires only a onetime visit by a technician that takes about one hour including travel to and from the residence.

Nevada Energy currently charges a recurring monthly basic service charge of $12.75 in addition to several other charges and fees for green energy and energy efficiency, etc. for persons who connect to their system. And, since they have recently gone private, they are now saddled with pleasing owners with ever increasing profits over time, as opposed to other public utilities, such as sewer and water, that are also monopolies, but seem to be concerned only with keeping service high for customers while keeping costs low. It appears that one of the money making ideas is to go out and buy power on the open market, sometimes at rates lower than Nevada Energy’s ability to self generate. And, this seems to have raised a question as to what a solar customer should be charged or credited for the power exchange. Keeping the past actions of other companies such as Enron in mind, the PUC should be very wary of money making ideas that might result in catastrophic costs to the average power user and focus its energies on keeping power costs low for all users. Also, it just seems to be basically unfair to charge a customer more to get their power back from the grid than the company is paying for the power it takes and then instantly sells to other customers.

Roof top solar is highly expandable and, in my opinion if allowed to reasonably proceed, it will result in a lasting beneficial effect to society by reducing global warming through a substantial reduction in the need for power generation by major air and water polluters like coal and/or natural gas. Lastly, it would only take minor rewiring to make a roof top solar system a life saver for people who have it and perhaps others who live nearby when our power grid is attacked and knocked off line by hackers for two or three months as it inevitably will be. Don’t take my word for this, take a look at Ted Koppel’s new book titled, Lights Out.

Regards,  Residential Solar Customer


  • PUCN

We recently installed Solar at our residence in Henderson, Nevada, and are writing you to urge the Commission to PLEASE support the public in our endeavor to become environmentally friendly and energy efficient.

In addition to contributing clean energy to the grid we are supporting our local business owners and helping to create jobs for Nevada.  Nevada disparately needs the solar industry to create & sustain jobs.  Decisions made by the PUCN have a huge impact on our lives and one that supports only big business will have negative impacts on the public for decades to come.

As retirees from AT&T, we lived through the phone company monopoly breakup and the reorganization of the telephone system.  What the phone companies were forced to do was change their thinking and the way they did business in order to remain competitive.  The end result was the public benefited from competition and innovation not previously available through the monopoly.

NV Energy needs to do the same, rethink their business plan and strategy to stay competitive, profitable, and innovative.  Instead we are seeing retribution and threats of retaliation in the way we are being compensated for trying to be innovative and literally giving back to NV Energy, energy we are generating.  Jobs are being threatened and the livelihood of our state is in jeopardy.  WE need your help and support to force NV Energy to change their negative attitude towards solar energy & capitalize on this energy source.

We are on a fixed income and need to realize the savings and contributions we are making via Net Metering.  It is hard to understand why there would be a cap on any form of energy generation.  A cap can only support big business and hurt the consumer.

You are our only defense against the deep pockets of Warren Buffet.  None of the residents of Nevada have the financial influence Mr. Buffet can over the commission but we are dependent upon you to stand by us and support us.

Thank you, in advance, for you consideration on this matter and your time.

Residential Solar Customer


 

  • Dear Sirs,

We are Nevada homeowners who recently purchased and activated a residential solar PV system for our home.  We believe that the ability of Nevada homeowners to acquire and use a rooftop solar energy system to provide their home’s electricity needs is a responsible and appropriate investment that should be encouraged by the Nevada PUC.  The PUCN should carefully consider the substantial evidence that supports the economic and environmental benefits of residential solar systems.  Home solar PV systems even benefit non-solar homeowners and the poor as well as the middle class.

Net metering is essential to the future of home solar PV systems.  We would not have bought a PV system without net metering.  Now NV Energy wants to extract higher profits from solar homeowners to fund their expanded construction initiatives.  Initiatives that are probably not necessary if residential solar systems continue to proliferate.   Additionally, casinos and other businesses want to be released from NV Energy’s monopoly so they can buy power from other suppliers.  A recent article in the Las Vegas Review Journal by James Taylor recommends shifting the costs of electricity from the casinos to Nevada homeowners by eliminating net metering and releasing casinos from the monopoly.  That’s not right, and I believe that the PUCN is smarter than that.

I hope that the PUCN does the right thing – economically, environmentally, and responsibly – by continuing the net metering program for Nevada homeowners.  NV Energy is a very profitable company without squeezing more money from the poor and middle class citizens of Nevada.

Many thanks,  Residential Solar Customer


 

  • Dear Sirs:

This is a letter from a citizen who has purchased a solar power  system for his home, to urge you to continue the current net metering policy .

The purchase we made was a life decision to help the environment and make for a better planet for future generations.

You would be doing a grave injustice to those  who have purchased such systems by changing the rules after they have made such major investments and commitments to the renewable energy movement.

Thank You for your consideration,

Residential Solar Customer


  • Dear PUCN,

As a long time resident of Las Vegas, we recently desired to do our part by having solar panels installed on our home.

As you prepare to meet and discuss the “Net Metering” issue, please keep us homeowners in mind so that we may benefit from the effects associated with solar energy.

Net Metering brings significant economic benefits to those of us that have invested in it.

Regards,

Residential Solar Customer


  • To whom it may concern;

We recently installed Solar PV at our residence in North Las Vegas, NV. and are writing you to urge the Commission to PLEASE support the public in our endeavor to become environmentally friendly and energy efficient.

How can all the customers in NEM 1 group be subject to changes on a legal contract that we all had to sign? Why is NVE (NV Energy) allowed to take our overage of kWH’s produced with our own system and sell it to our neighbors without any profit to the owners of the system?

How can NVE limit the amount of power and size of our systems? If NVE can reduce how much they will are willing to give new customers credit on their extra kWH’s, these same customers will no longer be able to off-set their electric bills by 100%. If that will be the new norm for new and old customers, then we should all be allowed to produce 110-120% like our friends in Pahrump and Mesquite.

You are our only defense against the deep pockets of Warren Buffett.  None of the residents of Nevada have the financial influence Mr. Buffett can over the commission but we are dependent upon you to stand by us and support us.

In addition to contributing clean energy to the grid we are supporting our local business owners and helping to create jobs for Nevada.  NVE now has 60MW’s of excess power compared to the 30MW’s of power they had before the Solar business expanded dramatically. This helps to reduce the demand for power from the grid, which in turn will help NVE reduce their costs and need to expand. Nevada disparately needs the solar industry to create & sustain jobs.  Decisions made by the PUCN have a huge impact on our lives and one that supports only big business will have negative impacts on the public for decades to come.

NVE (NV Energy) needs to do the same, rethink their business plan and strategy to stay competitive, profitable, and innovative.  Instead we are seeing retribution and threats of retaliation in the way we are being compensated for trying to be innovative and literally giving back to NVE, energy we are generating.  Jobs are being threatened and the livelihood of our state is in jeopardy.  WE need your help and support to force NVE to change their Negative attitude towards solar energy & capitalize on this energy source.

We are on a fixed income and need to realize the savings and contributions we are making via Net Metering.  Money was taken out of “income producing investments” to pay for the solar, which in turn would virtually eliminate most of our electric bill. It is hard to understand why there would be a cap on any form of energy generation.  A cap can only support big business and hurt the consumer. How is it, that a company can dictate how many customers can own their own energy generation equipment?

Do we live in Communist China? Once again, the consumer has found a way to sustain a better and more financially stable lifestyle and big business wants to take it away. Money not spent on electric bills that constantly increase can be invested into their own retirement accounts.

NVE’s rates have gone up over 5% per year over the last 13 years. The fees they have tacked on, have increased approximately 90% in the last year and a half. Is this fair? And now they want to kill Net Metering? They want to only give us all a partial credit for the extra kWH’s produced.

It’s time to do the right thing. Support the jobs and solar industry for NV. And not who contributes the most money and has the biggest lobbyists. Support the residents of NV.

Thank you, in advance, for your consideration on this matter and your time,

Residential Solar Customer