SUMMARY: New Energy Industry Task Force
After a summer of debate and discussion, Governor Sandoval's New Energy Industry Task Force (NEITF) adjourned last month with 27 recommendations aimed at guiding Nevada's energy future.
Here are the highlights.
1. Bill Draft Requests: As part of the recommendations issued by the Task Force, Governor Brian Sandoval has submitted three Bill Draft Requests (BDR) to Nevada's 2017 Legislature.
Although the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada ordered the grandfathering of prior rooftop solar customers in September, Gov. Sandoval submitted a July BDR requesting the legislature grandfather Nevada’s original 32,000 solar customers under their previously contracted rates. A BDR that would amend the Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) process to prioritize clean energy, consider environmental benefits and broaden stakeholder inclusion has also been submitted. Finally, the Governor’s office has recommended a bill to enable Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing to increase access to property improvements through renewable energy and energy efficiency upgrades.
2. Clean Energy Development: The NEITF recommended the 2017 Legislature consider a bill that would restrict the amount of fossil fuels imported from other states to produce electricity. This would encourage the development and use of clean energy sources to generate power.
The NEITF also recommended that the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection reconvene the Clean Power Plan (CPP) Technical Advisory Group to assist in the development of a state plan for compliance with the CPP. Additionally, the NEITF recommended the Governor's Office of Energy continue collaboration with western states on regional energy issues that maximize opportunities to advance Nevada's renewable resources, reduce air pollution, and lower costs for consumers.
3. New Tech: The Task Force recommended a bill that would direct the PUCN to study and implement energy storage methods on the electric grid.
The NEITF also issued issued a recommendation encouraging the PUCN to work with the Governor's Office of Energy, Nevada Department of Transportation, and the regulated utility to develop programs to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles.
4. Rooftop Solar & Distributed Generation: The Task Force recommended bills that would create a clear valuation of distributed solar energy, protect solar customers from rate changes that would significantly devalue their investments, and allow the implementation of community solar projects and gardens.
Among the more interesting recommendations regarding rooftop solar is the proposal of a "minimum bill" structure. This legislation would act as a compromise measure until the PUCN has reached a final decision in a Value of Solar docket. It would reinstate retail rate net metering and seek to resurrect the rooftop solar market in Nevada. In return, solar customers would pay a minimum bill, not to exceed $25 per month, to ensure a minimum contribution from all ratepayers to reduce potential cost-shifts to non-solar customers.