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Valley Electric Association is considering revisions to its “net metering” policy to bring it in line with Nevada law.
The new policy, which was expected to be presented to the VEA Board of Directors at its June 26 meeting, would lower the percentage of reimbursement for generated power from 100% currently to between 75%-95%, depending on when the member-generator interconnected with the VEA grid.
The term “net metering” refers to a process of reimbursing members for power generated over and above actual consumption. Though VEA purchases power at approximately 4 cents a kilowatt hour, the Co-op’s practice has been to reimburse solar generators at the full retail rate of 11.9 cents.
Going forward, member-generators will be assigned a tier that is tied to the date that a completed application to install a net-metering system was received. The proposed policy tracts with state law. Generally, the older the application, the higher the reimbursement rate.
The majority of VEA’s generation of renewable energy by members comes in the form of solar, but some members generate power with wind turbines. Since the total number of applications in house would bring the system size to nearly 6 megawatts, virtually all new applications would be reimbursed at 75% of the retail rate.
“With these revisions, Valley Electric will be in line with state law, which serves to encourage the development of solar generation,” said Dick Peck, Interim CEO. “The wholesale power rate is approximately 4 cents per kilowatt hour, but we had been paying our member-generators 11.9 cents for their excess power. We have to always remember that members who do not generate renewable energy are subsidizing those who do.”
The number of member-generators has grown significantly in the past two years, prompting the need for revisions in VEA’s policy, said Peck. He estimated that VEA paid $230,000 for power through its net metering program in 2018.
The revisions put VEA in line with Assembly Bill 405, passed by the Nevada Legislature in 2017. Though VEA was exempt from the 2017 law because it is a Cooperative, VEA currently reimburses member-generators at a rate at 100%.
According to VEA records, the Co-op’s first solar generator was interconnected to the system in 2006. The number of generators did not pass 100 until 2014. VEA now has more than 600 generators (approximately 3% of the membership) who participate in net metering.
“Up until recently, net metering had no significant financial impact.” As the number of solar generators has increased, however, so too has the cost of purchasing power through the net metering system.
The new VEA policy – No. 136 – will be posted on VEA’s website after it is approved by the Board – www.vea.coop