Help Put Rooftop Solar on the Ballot in Nevada

The PUC eliminated rooftop solar to protect NV Energy’s monopoly. We’ve launched a campaign to put rooftop solar on the ballot in November and get it back. Join us! http://www.bringbacksolar.org

Last December, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUC) passed anti-solar rules that destroyed the rooftop solar industry in America’s sunniest state. The rules eliminated Nevadans’ choice to go solar, imposed massive new fees on existing customers, and has already cost the state hundreds of jobs, with thousands more Nevadans facing layoffs in the coming months. And they did all that WITHOUT any evidence that NV Energy incurred any increased generation, transmission or distribution expenses that can be tracked back to the installation of residential solar arrays. Moreover, they undermined state policies and incentives that encouraged customers to go solar, created thousands of jobs, and made Nevada a national leader in clean energy. The PUC’s rules are unfair, they have damaged Nevada’s business-friendly reputation, and they only benefit the State’s monopoly utility, NV Energy. 

The PUC’s new rules allow NV Energy to take clean electricity from residential solar customers and sell it to their neighbors at a 300% markup, or even better, sell it on the open market for more than they can legally charge their customers, while crediting net-metered customers with a fraction of energy usurped. They also force solar customers to pay monthly fees 200% higher than other residential customers without solar arrays. In other words, the PUC granted NV Energy the right to usurp the investments made by residential customers who invested in solar arrays (but did nothing to penalize big box stores littered with solar panels on their roofs). That’s just wrong. NV Energy should not be allowed to take our electricity without fair compensation.

Meanwhile, all we’re seeing/hearing from Governor Sandoval?  Crickets!  Sign up now for Bring Solar Back‘s email list to join the fight and support the petition. Then, share and tweet your support to get your friends and neighbors on board.

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Elections Have Consequences—The 2015 Republican Agenda

—by Rich Dunn, RNDC 2nd Vice Chairman

According to press reports, a week after the election key GOP legislators and party officials set up an ad hoc committee to begin drafting an agenda for Nevada’s 2015 legislative session. Below are a couple of dozen ideas they’ve come up with so far. If you’re one of the Democrats who voted to stay home instead of casting a ballot in the general election, here’s what you voted for:

  1. Disenfranchise all voters without photo ID’s.
  2. Repeal the Modified Business Tax, the 1.17% payroll tax that only applies to businesses with more than $62,500 in quarterly wages.
  3. Institute a school voucher program to transfer public school funding to private schools, eliminate teacher seniority rights, play teachers off against each other for bonuses, and deregulate charter schools.
  4. Allow a one-third minority to veto ballot tax measures, just as they can now in the legislature.
  5. Allow concealed firearms on school and college campuses.
  6. Nullify all local gun control laws.
  7. Demand that federal lands be “ceded back” to the state. It should be noted that Nevada never owned any of the federal lands within Nevada’s borders, and acceptance of federal jurisdiction was put into the state constitution as a condition of admission. Besides, the State of Nevada doesn’t have the money needed to manage these lands, so any cession of federal lands to the state could only mean selling them off to private interests. That wouldn’t go down very well with ranchers, who currently graze their cattle on BLM- and Forest Service-managed ranges for almost nothing.
  8. Eviscerate construction defect and product defect laws.
  9. Transfer the cost of Medicaid expansion from the government to the beneficiaries.
  10. Require proof of insurance for issuance of driver privilege cards.
  11. Restrict EBT card use “at bars, strip clubs and brothels.” This item reveals the GOP’s ignorance of existing law. The DWSS website says that EBT cards cannot be used for “any non-food item, such as pet foods, soaps, paper products, household supplies, grooming items, toothpaste and cosmetics; alcoholic beverages and tobacco; vitamins and medicines; any food that will be eaten in the store; hot foods that are ready to eat; or any food marketed to be heated in the store.” It’s safe to say that these cards are not being used at bars, strip clubs or brothels, but low-information voters who listen to Republican bloviations will no doubt believe they are.
  12. Restrict Millennium Scholarships to citizens and documented aliens (dream on, dreamers).
  13. Repeal the 2013 session’s energy bill (SB123), which closed the Moapa coal-fired power plant and provided ratepayer subsidies to NV Energy for investment in renewables and natural gas.
  14. Repeal the state’s “hate crime” law (NRS 193.1675) that provides enhanced penalties for crimes targeting victims because of their race, sexual orientation, religion, color, national origin, gender identity or physical or mental disability.
  15. Enact recommendations of Gov. Gibbons’ SAGE Commission, which among other things called for reducing health and retirement benefits for state employees, closing rural prisons, privatizing urban prisons, and outsourcing highway maintenance.
  16. Convert the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan, a change that will limit employees’ ability to cash out when they exit government service.
  17. Eliminate “prevailing wage” requirements for public works and school construction to depress construction wages and put union contractors at a competitive disadvantage.
  18. Resurrect the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump project.
  19. Further weaken collective bargaining rights for public sector employees.
  20. Repeal the state minimum wage.
  21. Put limits on the pay of constitutional officers and their chiefs of staff.
  22. Subject confidential public employee union contract negotiations to the Open Meeting Law.
  23. Repeal Common Core education standards.
  24. Further deregulate home schooling.

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NV Energy Logic Defies Logic

NV Energy is seeking a rate increase before the Nevada Public Utilities Commission (NPUC) because customers are conserving electricity.  Because their customers are replacing old appliances (e.g.,  air conditioners, inefficient appliances, and the like) and using more energy-efficient devices and light bulbs, they want the Public Utilities Commission’s approval for a 5% rate increase for Southern Nevada customers, and 3% rate increase for Northern Nevada customers.  Their logic?  To recover revenue it would have received without those conservation incentives.  I’m sorry, but that logic defies logic.

Let’s see if I get this right.  A customer replaces lightbulbs with more efficient lightbulbs and appliances and other devices used around the house with more energy efficient appliances and devices with the expectation that they will be using less electricity.  They may even have (like me) installed a solar system to minimize their electrical usage.  In each case, those making those investments did so in an effort to ultimately reduce the expenses they incur each month related to electrical usage costs.

Excuse me but before retiring, I used to work for an electric company back east.  All utilities are interconnected through a national grid system.  Assuming NV Energy now has excess capacity as a result of all of our conservation efforts, could they not sell their excess capacity on that grid to other utilities needing that capacity?  If not, why not?  That’s a critical question the NPUC needs to ask before granting any per kilowatt hour increases for NV Energy’s customers.

Environmentalists and former regulators pressed our representatives to pass AB150 (which they did so unanimously in both houses), saying it would be a useful tool in encouraging customers to conserve energy.   Now, because of the changes in that bill, NV Energy thinks they deserve more money per kilowatt hour from their customers?  I don’t think so.

Background on AB150:
Existing law requires the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada to establish a portfolio standard for each provider of electric service in this State. The portfolio standard must require each provider to generate, acquire or save from renewable energy systems or energy efficiency measures a certain percentage of the total amount of electricity sold by the provider to its retail customers. For calendar years 2011 and 2012, each provider is required to generate, acquire or save from renewable energy systems or energy efficiency measures not less than 15 percent of the total amount of electricity sold by the provider to retail customers in this State.

(NRS 704.7821) Under existing law, an energy efficiency measure which qualifies for the portfolio standard must be installed at the service location of a retail customer.

(NRS 704.7802) This bill revises the definition of “energy efficiency measure” for the purposes of the portfolio standard to include any measure designed, intended or used to improve energy efficiency:

  1. that is installed or implemented on or after January 1, 2005 at the service location of or for a retail customer;
  2. that reduces the consumption of energy by one or more retail customers; and
  3. the costs of the acquisition, installation or implementation of which are directly reimbursed, in whole or in part, by the provider of electric  service.

Let’s hope the NPUC doesn’t blindly pass NV Energy’s requested rate increase without thinking it through.  If the NPUC grants NV Energy’s rate relief request, all customers will be paying more per kilowatt hour for each kilowatt hour they use, all while NV Energy does absolutely nothing different.  On the other hand, those customers who forked over their hard earned money to make improvements will lose the potential of those investments aimed at reducing their electrical bills.  NV Energy will be getting more for each kilowatt hour they sell to their customers, they’ll continue to sell their excess capacity on the grid for whatever the market will bear (which at times is well above the cost to produce),  and they’ll be laughing all the way to the bank at our expense.

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