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SUNSET in Nevada? 
by Vice President Knight Allen
Originally published on January 14, 2016 - reprinted with permission

    Let's revisit the net metering/rooftop solar debate which has really blown up with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) decision to do a major revamp of the financial structure the system.

    In the November 'Foghorn'  I wrote that with all the PR, eco/jobs spin being thrown at us by the solar industry we really had no choice except to wait and see what numbers the PUC staff would come up with and how they would play into the decision process.

    Well, some very interesting numbers are out there now and I'd like to offer them to you because they have not been reported in the local papers. The mechanics of the decision, the reduction of the rate NV Energy will pay to rooftop generators, the increase in the monthly service charge to them have been but not some other pretty important points. For that info we have to go to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) editorial Tuesday 12/29/15, "Nevada Solar Flare."

    Let's start with the big one: according to the WSJ the Nevada PUC staff estimates non-solar ratepayers subsidize solar users in southern Nevada $623 a year and most of that revenue flows to the big investors in companies like Solar City and SunRun. Investors with name such as JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. Doesn't that give you a nice warm and fuzzy feeling? The letters to the editor page is burning up with outrage from rooftop solar owners and lessees about how government has "changed the rules after the fact." That is simply not accurate. Again, from the WSJ, "Solar customers must sign an interconnection agreement with the NV Energy utility stipulating that, 'the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (Commission) or the Utility may amend the tariffs upon Commission approval.'" What is the matter with these people? Didn't they even bother to read what they were signing?

    Here's a truly brutal zinger from the editorial for those who lease: "Most solar customers won't even be affected UNLESS SOLAR LEASING COMPANIES JACK UP THEIR RATES TO BAIL OUT THEIR INVESTORS." (my emphasis). What? Want to bet that too is buried somewhere in the contract nobody bothered to read?

The Journal summed it all up in one beautifully written sentence; "In short, net metering is regressive political income redistribution in support of a putatively progressive cause." The deal is far from done so stay tuned.

    On a lighter note I want to relate to you a phone call I got from one of our friends in an Indian call center. Normally of course I just hang up but this kid's persistence and style (if you can call it that) disarmed me a bit so I kinda let him do his thing. Let's call him Raj.

    Raj: Good day Mr. Allen. I'm calling to tell you about a wonderful offer for.....
KA: I'm on the Do Not Call list.
R: Absolutely Mr. Allen! Now let me tell you.....
K: I'm on the Do Not Call list.
R: Absolutely Mr. Allen! But it's my job to tell you about our wonderful offer on solar panels which will save you.....
K: No, no, no... it's your job to apologize to me profusely, take my name off the call list and make sure I'm never bothered again.
R: Absolutely Mr. Allen! I understand completely! Now these solar panels will reduce your electricity bill.....
K: Raj? Raj? (he kept right on going) Raj? Oh RAAAJ!
R: Yes Mr. Allen?
K: Goodbye Raj.

    I had to laugh in spite of myself. It was fun.

Contact Vice-President Knight Allen