Apartments, multi-family housing could tap into rooftop solar under proposed bill

Riley Snyder
Riley Snyder

Apartment dwellers and other Nevadans unable to install rooftop solar panels and use the state’s net metering program may soon have a way to access the program under a bill proposed by Democratic Sen. Chris Brooks.

Introduced Monday, SB167 would amend the definitions of a “public utility” and “net metering” in Nevada law to enable renewable generating stations in an apartment or multi-family dwelling to tap into the state’s current net metering program. A 2017 change in law requires utilities to reimburse rooftop solar customers for the full retail value of energy they put back on the grid (offset against electricity they consume) and then reimburses at a slightly reduced rate for any excess energy generated by the panels that is not offset by the consumer’s electric use.

If approved, the bill would effectively allow apartment owners to install a rooftop solar system that is then sold to building tenants to offset all or part of their electric needs, as long as the system has a less than 1 megawatt generating capacity and keeps electricity on the same property where it was produced.

Brooks said the legislation was inspired by a November decision by the Public Utilities Commission to reject a request for an advisory opinion that sought to allow apartment dwellers and others who live in non-single family housing to participate in net metering programs.

The rejected application, submitted on behalf of a property management company owned by Alan Molasky, called for creation of a “Tenant Solar” concept that would allow apartment owners to either directly or through a third-party sell electricity to tenants in an apartment complex through a distributed generation (solar panel) system.

State energy regulators rejected the application, citing staff opinions that creating an advisory opinion would be “impermissible ad hoc rulemaking” outside the commission’s scope.

Brooks said he still wanted to talk with the state’s primary electric utility, NV Energy, to see if any issues or unintended consequences could arise from amending the definitions, but said he was committed to finding some way to allow apartment tenants and others in multi-family homes to tap into the state’s net metering program.

“The concept expands the benefits of net metering to people here in Nevada that have no ability to take advantage of net metering, because they don’t own their own property or they don’t have a single-family home,” he said. “It makes the benefits of distributed generation solar available to more Nevadans.”


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