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Nev. judge disqualifies 'bring back solar' voter initiative to restore net metering

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Nev. judge disqualifies 'bring back solar' voter initiative to restore net metering

ANevada district court judge on March 28 disqualified a ballot measure therooftop solar industry is sponsoring in an effort to allow voters to decidewhether to repeal portions of a state law upon which the Public UtilitiesCommission killed net metering for solar customers.

BringBack Solar Alliance spokeswoman Chandler Sherman said March 29 that herorganization, which is sponsoring a petition to get the referendum on theNovember ballot, is preparing to appeal the decision to the Nevada Supreme Courtand will take the fight to the state legislature in 2017, if necessary.

Further,while she confirmed the ruling of Judge James Russell of the 1st JudicialDistrict Court of Nevada in Carson City, Nev., she said the judge stayed hisruling long enough to afford the alliance the opportunity to continue gatheringthe 55,000 signatures needed to put the initiative before the voters while thecase is appealed.

Asuccessful outcome of the appeal would allow the alliance to avoid having totake a referendum to the state legislature for approval to submit to voters,which would mean a delay past this November, she said.

Apolitical action committee called Citizens for Solar and Energy Fairnesschallenged the wording of the initiative the alliance wanted to take to thevoters. The PAC, which is backed by NVEnergy Inc. and a utility workers' union, contends the proposedinitiative does not comply with the state constitution.

Thejudge agreed with the PAC's view that the referendum could not directly askvoters to repeal parts of the law, but would have to get the legislature'sapproval to pose the law's amendments to voters.

Shermansaid a number of legislators support changes to the law because they believethe PUC misconstrued the intent of their lawmaking. In view of the popularsupport for rooftop solar, Sherman said she believes the legislature would sidewith the intent of the referendum. "People clearly want tobring back solar. More than 100,000 people have signed on to our campaign,"she said.

However,failure of the Supreme Court to overturn the lower court's decision would leadto further solar job losses and delay in opportunities for solar customers, shesaid.

TheAlliance has its own PAC, namely the NO Solar Tax PAC, which has the financialsupport of SolarCity Corp.,a multi-state solar installation and leasing company, as well as smallerrooftop solar companies.

Meanwhile,The Alliance for Solar Choice has fileda lawsuit against the PUC in an effort to have the 1st Judicial District Courtset aside the PUC's orders that imposed deep cuts in credits provided to solarcustomers and placed higher fixed charges on them. That case is before anotherjudge.

ThePUC on Dec. 22, 2015, decidedto replace the retail energy credit for NV Energy's distributed solar customerswith wholesale power market rates and made Nevada the first state to decideagainst allowing customers who have already installed solar under previous netmetering terms to continue to keep their old rates.

NVEnergy is a subsidiary of BerkshireHathaway Energy.