Net Metering Reinstatement Triggers Solar Application Boom in Nevada

New legislation is already showing big signs that it has jumpstarted Nevada’s ailing solar installation business.


Despite the fact that it’s a state with abundant sunshine that’s considered perfect for rooftop power generating systems, new rooftop solar applications were dramatically down in Nevada for a long period of time. It looks like the government noticed too and decided to do something about it in order for the state to meet its ambitious renewable goals. That solution seems to have come in the form of a new net metering bill that was passed in early June of 2017. 

This new legislation, called Assembly Bill 405 (AB 405 for short), is already showing big signs that it has jumpstarted Nevada’s ailing solar installation business. The bill in a nutshell reinstates Nevada’s net metering law which was terminated in 2015 and was largely blamed for all but effectively shutting down new rooftop solar power installations in the State. Big solar companies such as First Solar (Tesla), Vivint Solar and Sunrun which had all stopped sales in the state after the first net metering bill was repealed, are now back and taking advantage in the recent surge of new rooftop solar power generating applications.  

What’s Net Metering? 

Not everyone is familiar with the term net metering so we will try to describe it in Lehman’s terms. One of the big issues with personal rooftop solar systems is battery storage. It has just not gotten to the point where it’s affordable and feasible for most home solar power generating systems. Why is this a big problem? Because over the years solar panel efficiency has increased substantially and now many people produce much more energy than they can use at one time and have no means to store it for later use. 

Hence net metering was born. But it’s a complicated matter at best. Net metering was necessary in order for people who generated excess solar produced energy to not just waste it. It created a billing system for them to sell their excess generated power to the main electric grid. The big problem being there has been no consistency in how it’s paid out from state to state over the years. Every state seems to have their own way of reimbursing excess solar energy producers. 

The first state to allow net metering was Idaho way back in 1980. Since then 44 states and the District of Columbia have some form of it or another. In 2003 the number of renewable energy producers that took advantage of net metering was barely a blip on the radar. At the end of 2017 there were over 1 million renewable energy producers that took part in some form of net metering across the USA. 

What Does AB 405 Do? 

When Governor Sandoval of Nevada signed AB 405 it reinstated the state’s old net metering bill that was terminated in 2015 as was previously mentioned. It allows excess renewable energy producers (not just solar power producers) to sell their first excess 80 megawatts of produced energy at 95% of the going retail electricity rate. Each additional 80 megawatts of excess energy produced lowers the price 7% down until it caps at a low price of 75% of the going retail electric rate.  

What’s so special about AB 405 and why is it significant? It’s the first time in the USA that the rights of a person to self-generate electricity have been actually protected by law. It sets a big precedent that has many solar advocates smiling wildly. You won’t get rich selling excess electricity back to the power grid but it makes installing a rooftop solar power generating system all that much more appealing. 

How Is AB 405 Helping Nevada So Far? 

After the first Nevada net metering act was repealed it put solar installations in the state back on its heels. In 2016 the state only received a total of 287 new rooftop solar system applications. In 2017 that figured climbed to over 3000 applications and counting, much of which happened after net metering was restored in June of 2017. Solar installation contractors which laid off many employees in 2016 are now hiring those employees back and even more. It is hard to be against net metering when you look at impressive figures like that. 

It looks like these impressive growth figures in solar power system installations in Nevada are here to stay if what’s happening in the short run is a glance at what the future of rooftop solar will look like in Nevada.  




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