There is plenty of sun to go around in Nevada, but the benefits of solar power have yet to reach everyone who lives there.
Authorities are trying to fix that. On Dec. 7, 2021, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN), Carson City, Nev., took the first steps in the state's plan to expand access to solar power. Docket No. 19-06028 establishes standards and definitions for utilities to follow in implementing an expanded solar access program (ESAP).
Nevada’s ESAP is intended to increase the reach of solar power to include those customers who do not have the financial means to install traditional solar technology or are otherwise not able to do so because of where they live.
In adopting the regulations, the PUCN is fulfilling its obligations under state legislation passed two years ago. AB 465, which was signed into law in June 2019, requires electric utilities to offer an ESAP to certain customers and to submit a plan to the PUCN for such a program. It also requires the commission to adopt regulations and standards to implement the program.
Docket No. 19-06028 offers several guidelines and definitions to help utilities get started. Among other things, it includes definitions of disadvantaged businesses and low-income customers and sets up guidelines for how eligible customers may apply for the program. It also establishes requirements for the rates that utilities can charge low-income customers and the process for how utilities can recover the costs of implementing an ESAP.
The ESAP aims to increase access to solar power through such measures as reduced rates for eligible low-income customers and community-based solar programs for renters and other residents who cannot install their own solar panels.
The state also has an eye for increasing employment opportunities through solar access. The ESAP legislation calls for solar workforce innovations and opportunity programs related to the construction, maintenance and operation of solar resources. This includes workforce training, apprenticeships and other job opportunities at community-based solar resources.