Energy regulators call for cooler heads to prevail on solar issues

March 18, 2016

Energy professionals heard from regulators seeking more rational discussion and less heated rhetoric in the ongoing rooftop solar debate during an industry conference this week in Phoenix.

Nevada Commissioner David Noble and former Arizona and federal regulator Marc Spitzer spoke at the annual Arizona Energy Conference, sponsored the Arizona Competitive Power Alliance. They addressed the need to make policy decisions within the existing regulatory process and not in the political arena.

Noble and his Public Utilities Commission – Nevada colleagues have been at the center of a hotly contested debate over changes to the state’s net metering policy and rates for NV Energy customers with rooftop solar.

Noble defended the commission’s decision and said he was “frustrated” with rooftop leasing companies’ tactics during the proceedings, according to the Arizona Republic.

"It's unfortunate that the rooftop solar companies involved were trying to make their case in the media, and not to us," he said.

Noble also said, “I’ve tried my hardest to always do the right thing based on the information that’s put forth. To have misinformation out there has been tough,” according to the Arizona Capitol Times. (subscription required)

The Nevada commissioners and Gov. Brian Sandoval faced significant pressure from rooftop leasing industry group The Alliance for Solar Choice and rooftop leasing companies SolarCity and Sunrun, which continue to oppose the changes.

He noted that Nevada-based solar companies have been less contentious during the regulatory process.

"The homegrown ones, because they are invested in the community long-term, tend to be more rational," Noble said.

Spitzer, who served on the Arizona Corporation Commission and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said he would like to see people focus on finding solutions instead of letting their anger win out in the debate, according to a separate Arizona Capitol Times article. (subscription required)

“It’s time for, not just in Arizona and in Nevada, but across the country, for wise people to say, enough of this crap. … The regulation of this industry needs to be done in an academic and objective and regulatory and judicial process and not within the political process,” he said.