24 May New Reports Indicate Solar Generation Provides Net Benefit to All Ratepayers
Two net metering and solar generation reports came out today, backed by newer and more comprehensive data, to show that solar generation has a net benefit to all ratepayers, contrary to the findings from the most recent net metering docket hearing at the Nevada Public Utilities Commission. The Brookings Institute finds that net metering, in particular rooftop solar, is a net benefit when taking into account all costs and benefits. They recommend regulators and utilities to “engage in a broader and more honest conversation about how to integrate distributed-generation technologies into the grid nationwide, with an eye toward instituting a fair utility-cost recovery strategy that does not pose significant challenges to solar adoption.”
Another report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and SolarCity shows that rooftop solar generation provides 1.6 cents of benefit per kWh of energy generated, with a total of $7 million in benefits annually for all Nevada utility customers. To include environmental and health externalities, the benefits of rooftop solar increase to 3.4 cents per kWh and $14 million annually.
At the Nevada: Powered by the Sun panel discussion today, sponsored by the Greenspun Center at UNLV and SolarCity, clean energy industry and policymaking experts gathered to discuss the new findings. When asked about their reaction to the reports, one panelist, Rose McKinney-James stated that “it’s quite clear, current regulatory regime needs to change. Utility models also need to change.” She also recommends the public, particularly those who support solar generation, to take a stand against misinformation and to fight back against groups who spread false data regarding rooftop solar and the benefits generated by solar generation.
The current and traditional utility models provide utility benefits that encourage over investment, in addition to the use of fossil fuels as its main energy source. Another factor to consider is the likelihood of power outages, an effect of having a centralized power grid. Furthermore, traditional power plants require an enormous amount of water, a scarce resource here in the West that must be conserve. These factors, along with the findings by the new reports, prompted experts to urge the Nevada Legislature to move forward with a legislative regime change to current net metering policies.