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Report: Net Metering with Rooftop Solar Worth $7M to $14M

A panel of experts on solar energy discussed a new report on net metering at UNLV on Tuesday. (Jackie Zusi-Russell)
A panel of experts on solar energy discussed a new report on net metering at UNLV on Tuesday. (Jackie Zusi-Russell)
May 25, 2016

LAS VEGAS - Nevada utility customers already are reaping $7 million to $14 million a year from rooftop solar, whether they have panels or not, according to a report released Tuesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council and energy provider Solar City.

The research is intended to fill in gaps left by a report done for the Nevada Public Utilities Commission last year that led the PUC to end net metering in December. Noah Long, director of the Western Energy Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the new report's cost-benefit analysis is more comprehensive, and looked at nine additional variables.

"The $7 million number really just includes electricity system benefits like reduced energy purchases from large power plants, reduced need for transmission and distribution system upgrades and investments, things like that," he said.

About 300 people attended a panel discussion on the subject on Tuesday at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. According to the report, the other $7 million in benefits would come from reduced pollution, which affects health costs, and from lower environmental costs associated with using fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas.

Members of the Governor's New Energy Industry Task Force are meeting on Thursday, and Long would like them to lean on the Legislature to address the issue in the 2017 session.

"We're certainly hoping that that task force will recommend bringing net metering back here in Nevada for the next two years and establishing a stable, fair rate policy," he said.

These issues will resurface in an upcoming rate case for Sierra Pacific Power Co., which serves Northern Nevada. It also is the subject of an initiative on the November ballot sponsored by the Bring Back Solar coalition, which would undo the PUC's decision from December and reinstate net metering for three years.

The report is online at nrdc.org.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NV