Delay for Solar Rate Hikes Denied by Nevada Public Utilities Commission
Another hearing on solar rates increasing for customers brought a lot of people out to Carson City Wednesday where the Public Utilities Commission made a vote on whether or not to delay new rate hikes.
Nevada utility regulators voted unanimously Wednesday to deny suspending new rooftop-solar rates for net metering customers.
This decision comes after six hours of testimony from dozens of homeowners who urged them to stop the increase.
Rooftop-solar customers say they feel forced into paying more, while receiving less credit for the excess electricity their systems generate. The Public Utilities Commission says they must treat all ratepayers fairly.
Chairman Paul Thomsen, with the PUC said, "It doesn't make me uncomfortable to try to protect 98% of residents in this state who don't have net metering on their roofs. I think we can find a balance."
The new rate took effect on the first on January for all rooftop-solar customers, including those who installed systems over the past few years.
Solar customers disagree with the PUC, calling the commission's decision unfair.
"You can correct this. You are wrong," said one solar customer.
PUC Chairman Paul Thomsen said he's offended by suggestions the panel didn't know what it was doing when it adopted the new rate.
"This commission has been working tirously not to favor or penalize one technology over the other, but to create a path forward for rooftop solar in this state, that treats all ratepayers fairly," said Thomsen.
However, many people expressed concern over losing value on their homes, investment, and jobs from the solar industry.
A solar customer commented, "Nobody was harmed. No rate payers were harmed. I have significant issues with that. I spend 32,000 of my own money and that was an agreement. The return on that investment was to take 10 to 12 years."
Another woman added, "Our solar rates are not going down. They're being hit on all fronts."
Testimonies were also heard down in Las Vegas. Where more than a thousand solar customers and workers who had been laid off protested the issue.
One big-name actor and solar advocate criticized the panel for their actions.
Mark Ruffalo said, "You have a lot of really angry people out there because they see what's happening. They know it's a game. It's a rigged game and you're not working for the public. You're working for the utility.This is happening all over the United States. You are basically regressing and you're doing it. You are the Public Utility Commission. Public. That's first."
Commissioners said they have sympathy for the solar workers laid-off. But they also suggested solar companies were partly to blame for not warning people they could see big changes in their bill.
The PUC commission is expected to hear several more petitions from people arguing this decision.