Nevada's original net-metering law for renewable-energy systems was enacted in 1997 and amended in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2011, 2013, and 2015. Systems up to one megawatt (MW) in capacity that generate electricity using solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and certain types of hydropower are generally eligible, although systems greater than 25 kilowatts (kW) in capacity may be subject to certain costs at the utility's discretion. Systems must be designed to offset part or all of a customer-generator's electricity requirements. A system is not eligible for net metering if its generating capacity exceeds the greater of (1) the limit on demand that the class of customer of the customer-generator may place on the utility's system, or (2) 100% of the customer's annual electricity demand.
Senate Bill 374 of 2015 changed the aggregate capacity limit for net metering under current tariffs from 3% of total peak capacity for all utilities to a flat cap of 235 MW. Once that cap was reached (which occurred in August 2015), the utilities must develop a new net metering tariff to be approved by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Such tariffs were approved in December 2015 and made effective January 1, 2016; there is no aggregate capacity limit under the new tariffs.
Separate Customer Class and New Tariff
Senate Bill 374 allowed the PUC to establish a separate customer class for distributed generation customers. The post-2015 net metering tariffs reflect this new customer class, with a higher monthly service charge and lower per-kilowatt hour (kWh) energy charge. The bill also gave the PUC broad authority to approve new tariffs that address cost shifts from net metered customers to other ratepayers. Such tariffs may vary from the previous requirements for billing, measurement, and treatment of net excess generation.
For net-metered systems up to 25 kW, utilities must offer the customer-generator a meter capable of registering the flow of electricity in two directions. The utility may also install one or more additional meters to measure the flow of electricity in each direction, but at its own expense and with the written permission of the customer. For net-metered systems greater than 25 kW, the utility may require a customer-generator to install -- at its own cost -- a meter capable of measuring generation output and customer load. In addition, a utility may require a customer-generator to pay for any upgrades to the utility's system, excluding standby charges, that are required to make the customer's system compatible with the utility's system.
Net Excess Generation
The new net metering tariffs do not meet DSIRE's definition of net metering, in which exported energy offsets, on a one-to-one basis, electricity consumed by the customer at a different time during the same billing cycle. NV energy will measure the energy exported to the grid from the customer's system (after the customer has consumed their own usage from the generation at the same time). NV Energy will assign a credit to the energy exported to the grid valued at the utility's avoided cost rate. If the customer is on a time-of-use rate, the credit will be calculated based on the time period in which the energy was exported. The monthly bill will apply the value of those credits against the energy charges for the total amount of energy delivered by the utility.
Assembly Bill 359 allows owners of hydropower facilities with a generating capacity up to 1 MW to offset electricity consumed on multiple contiguous properties owned by the customer generator. Assembly Bill 359 also allows for meter aggregation in the case of a wind energy device installed during 2012 on property owned or leased by an institution of higher learning and used for research and workforce training.
Assembly Bill 428, enacted in June 2013, required the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) to open an investigation to evaluate the costs and benefits of net energy metering, and then recommend a methodology for allocating such costs and benefits appropriately. The PUCN opened Docket 13-07010 for this process and commissioned a study by E3, which is available in that docket and on the PUCN’s website. On September 26, 2014, the PUCN submitted its net metering report to the Legislature, in which it recommended the Legislature modify the existing net metering statutes to provide the PUCN more flexibility to address net metering issues in general rate cases. The PUCN has also opened an investigation in Docket 14-06009 on whether to create separate customer classes for net metering customers. The cost of service studies generated in this docket were used in determining the new net metering tariffs effective after the 235 MW cap was reached.