In most states where customers have access to on-site solar they have been able to sell energy back to their utility at retail price. This has incentivized people to install solar and help increase renewable adoption.
But this all changed in Nevada on January 1st. That’s when Governor Brian Sandoval’s new solar law went into effect, making it so that all solar panels set up by citizens (even the ones already purchased and operating with the promise of a fixed rate structure) would not receive the same payment rate as energy companies. Instead, they would be paid at the wholesale market rate, a significantly lower number that doesn’t account for the benefits of solar. Even further, this law also raises a fixed monthly fee for those who buy solar energy in the state by almost 40 percent.
This extreme drop in payment and hike in tariff has already had devastating consequences to the state’s solar industry, with the two largest suppliers of solar panels in the state announcing thousands of layoffs.
Now that the Nevada state government has taken away much of the incentive to purchase solar panels, we thought it would be a good time to show just how much of an environmental impact not having these solar panels will mean.
To begin, the number of solar panels in Nevada was poised to grow over 20% every year for the next 5 years, and it is currently the number 5 state in the U.S. for solar capacity. This means that based on 974 MW capacity currently installed, by 2020 Nevada would have installed an additional 1450 MWs.
Assuming this growth is cut in half due to the new laws, this would be a difference of 725 MWs.
Based on Nevada’s 486 hours of average sunlight per year at an 80% efficiency, this would mean that 725 MWs would be producing an extra 281,880,000 kWh of clean solar power in the next five years if it weren’t for this new legislation limiting growth.
Bottom line, the environmental impact that this is going to have according to the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Calculator amounts to an equivalent of:
Instead of free energy from the sun, Nevada has opted for the opposite. Thankfully, many are standing up against this new law, and hopefully some changes will be made moving forward.