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Nevada Supreme Court Says ‘No’ to Referendum Question 5 on Net Metering Rates

August 9, 2016 By Cheryl Kaften

Despite a majority of voters statewide saying they would support the resolution, the Nevada Supreme Court on August 4 ruled unanimously against the Solar Rate Restoration Referendum – known as Question 5 – which would have appeared on the November general election ballot.

The referendum had been proposed in response to the widespread debate over a December 2015 change by state utility regulators that raised the fixed fee for solar customers over the following four years. At that time, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission also reduced the value of solar credits that could be earned by producing excess solar electricity.

Had Silver State voters said “yes” to Question 5, they would have been able to restore net metering to rates more favorable to the rooftop solar industry and its customers.

According to a report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the court said the “description of effect” required to explain the effect of the measure to those signing the petition was “not only inaccurate and misleading, but also argumentative.”

The court did not address the main issue on appeal, the news outlet said – which was whether the proposal qualified as a referendum of a law enacted by the 2015 Legislature. The court said it considers such constitutional questions only when necessary.

The renewable energy advocacy group, Bring Back Solar, now is deciding whether to fight for the prior net metering rates.  Were they to do so, their initiative petition would first go to the Legislature and then to voters in 2018, if lawmakers did not approve such a proposal, the Review-Journal said.

There is also a proposal for consideration by the Nevada Public Utilities Commission – filed last month by NV Energy – to grandfather in rooftop solar customers who had systems or valid applications as of December 31 of last year, at the more financially friendly net metering rates that existed prior to January 1 of this year.

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