We are applauding the results of a study from the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN), which found that rooftop solar and other small clean energy systems installed through 2016 will deliver $36 million in net benefits to Nevada ratepayers. The study was released as regulators consider additional customer fees and other policy changes that would have lasting negative impacts on private solar investment in the state. Given the clear benefits of more rooftop solar to Nevada, we urge regulators to reject such fees and ensure that Nevada’s solar customers continue to receive fair, full credit for the valuable clean energy they deliver to the grid.
“Rooftop solar is putting Nevada energy customers in charge of their electricity supply and utility bills like never before. Today’s report confirms that such investment in solar delivers real benefits amounting to millions of dollars for Nevada energy consumers, and that the state’s existing net metering program is a fair and simple way to account for those benefits,” said our western regional director Susannah Churchill. “We urge the state’s policymakers to recognize these benefits by keeping the way clear for Nevadans to choose solar power.”
The study, commissioned by the PUCN and undertaken by consulting firm Energy and Environmental Economics (E3), assessed the costs and benefits of one of the state’s most important rooftop solar programs, net metering. Like rollover minutes on a cell phone bill, net metering gives solar customers full credit on their utility bills for the excess clean power they contribute to the grid. In place in 43 states, this simple crediting arrangement is one of the most important state policies for enabling Americans to generate their own power from solar and other renewable energy resources. The PUCN study confirms that net metering delivers grid benefits to solar and non-solar customers alike in NV Energy territory.
“Any Nevadan knows that our state has a tremendous solar resource. I’m proud to know that my solar investment is lowering my own bills as well as those of my neighbors by producing clean, reliable local electricity. It just makes sense to put that free sunshine to work with good state policy that clears the way for more Nevadans to go solar,” said retired Colonel Michael Horsley, a Las Vegas resident who went solar in 2013.
“Sunshine saves my business thousands of dollars annually that I can reinvest in my company. It’s helped us take control of our energy bills and choose clean energy, and that’s further benefitting the community we serve,” said Jared Fisher, owner of Las Vegas Cyclery, which has been solar powered since 2012.
The study found that the benefits of Nevada’s net metered solar energy systems include: savings on expensive and polluting conventional power; reduced investments in transmission infrastructure; reduced electricity lost during transportation over power lines, as surplus net metered solar energy flows to the grid and is consumed locally; and savings on the cost of meeting carbon reduction and renewable energy goals.
In addition to grid benefits, distributed solar is delivering economic, environmental and public health benefits to solar and non-solar customers alike in Nevada. Local solar power helps keep energy dollars invested in the state, an important economic engine as the state currently relies on imports for 90 percent of its energy resources. The state’s rooftop solar market has driven $200 million in private investment and helped support 2,400 solar jobs, with significant opportunity for continued economic growth if the state maintains strong policy and regulation.
Private investment in local solar also reduces pollution, building healthier communities, environment and climate. This pollution reduction is especially important for low-income families who disproportionately bear the public health burden of fossil power. Of particular benefit to Nevada, rooftop solar also helps reduce the state’s use of water-intensive traditional power sources, which require an estimated 55,000 gallons of water per year to supply power for the average Nevada household. Plus, it’s keeping the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign lit with reliable, homegrown power. What could be more Nevada than that?