Study extols Nevada solar benefits

Grid benefits of rooftop solar systems installed in the state through 2016 will outweigh costs by more than $36m, according to an estimate in a new study prepared for the Nevada Public Utilities Commission.

The study done by San Francisco-based consultant Energy + Environmental Economics (E3) also found that Nevada’s net energy metering (NEM) program has “no substantial cost shift to nonparticipants” if ongoing and proposed reforms are carried out.

E3 also estimates that Nevada will realize a $166m net benefit from cost savings of avoided distribution upgrades over the lifetime of solar systems installed through 2016.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) says the findings are important because the Nevada PUC is reviewing whether solar customers should be in a separate class for future ratemaking decisions.

“This new reports confirms what we have been saying all along: utilizing solar energy benefits Nevada families, schools and businesses,” sasys SEIA chief executive Rhone Resch. “And net metering is one of the most important state programs for empowering Nevadans to install solar.”

Nevada - mainly desert - with 476MW of installed solar generating capacity ranks fifth among US states, according to SEIA data. The industry group says that average installed residential and commercial photovoltaic (PV) system prices in Nevada declined 25%  last year.

“As one of the sunniest states in the nation, expanding the use of solar energy in Nevada is a no-brainer,” Resch claims. “But we’re not just talking about saving money. The typical solar household in Nevada also saves 55,000 gallons of water per year. “