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Nevada consumer advocate seeks pause on solar rate changes

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CARSON CITY, Nev. >> The Nevada Bureau of Consumer Protection is asking regulators to put a hold on a controversial new rate structure for customers with rooftop solar panels.

Nevada Consumer Advocate Eric Witkoski filed the request Thursday, two days after the Public Utilities Commission voted to move forward with new rates that phase out subsidies and raise prices over five years.

Witkoski says solar customers who bought their panels years ago may not have been aware that their rates could change along with those for future customers. He also says the changes could drastically alter private contracts consumers signed with solar companies, and that could be legally questionable.

Solar company SolarCity says it’s ceasing solar panel sales for Nevadans in light of the rate change.

The three-member commission adopted a policy Tuesday that will reduce by 75 percent the amount NV Energy pays its 17,000 solar customers for excess power their panels produce. The new rate structure applies to customers who bought solar panels in years past, not just new ones signing on.

The commission said the change means rooftop solar customers will pay more of the costs that are now shifted to nonsolar customers.

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