A dispute about net metering in Nevada may soon be resolved -- for now.
The deal, which was arranged by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, will increase the amount of solar eligible for net metering through the end of the year.
The state's current net metering law allows for solar penetration up to 3 percent of NV Energy's peak load. As the solar industry moves closer to the cap, installers have been lobbying the legislature to increase it.
Earlier this month, Nevada lawmakers passed a bill giving utility regulators the option of adding monthly fees to residential solar systems. The bill failed to increase the net metering cap.
After heavy lobbying by the solar industry, an amendment to Senate Bill 374 was passed by an assembly committee over the holiday weekend. The amendment will allow for 235 megawatts of residential systems to qualify under net metering through the end of the year. It will also move the issue from the legislature to the state's public utilities commission, which will be responsible for crafting a new rate structure for solar.
If commissioners cannot agree on a new set of promotion policies for residential solar systems, the current net metering policy will continue indefinitely.
There are more than 3,300 residential systems currently feeding electricity into the grid under the state's net metering law.
The solar industry has claimed that 6,000 jobs were at risk without an increase to the cap.
NV Energy, like many other utilities around the country, argued that net metering over subsidizes solar by failing to account for fixed grid costs.
"Maintaining the status quo and allowing DG customers to continue to be served by residential rates that do not reflect the costs of serving DG customers and which shift costs to other customers is arguably the situation that would be deemed unreasonably discriminatory," wrote a former executive for Berkshire Hathaway, the company that owns NV Energy, in a strategy document last summer.
However, a study commissioned by state regulators last summer found that Nevada's net metering policy does not shift grid costs to non-solar customers. This is because solar system owners must now pay public-purpose charges, which are used to fund programs that benefit all ratepayers.