SolarCity and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) recently conducted a study which found that rooftop solar generation can provide up to $14 million in annual benefits to residents of the U.S. state of Nevada.
Huge benefits to residents
The study revealed that rooftop solar generation provides 1.6 cents of benefit per kilowatt-hour of energy generated, indicating that Nevada utility customers can get $7 million in benefits annually. Including environmental and health externalities, the benefits of rooftop solar increase to 3.4 cents per kilowatt-hour or $14 million annually.
The paper, titled “Distributed Energy Resources in Nevada,” recommends that policy makers and regulators develop advanced grid planning procedures that incorporate these benefits into the utility rate setting process. This, in turn, enables Nevadans to see the benefits on their electricity bills and ensures that the state makes the transition to a cleaner, more affordable and resilient grid.
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NRDC’s Western Energy Project’s Director, Noah Long, said that after closely examining the costs and benefits of rooftop solar generation in Nevada, it was confirmed that everyone stood to benefit from a continued partnership between customers and their utility to promote investment in clean energy.
Long further said that it will help avoid building unnecessary utility infrastructure, which could lead to increasing the bills of all customers, and will also help in cutting down on harmful carbon pollution.
SolarCity quantifies all variables
All the rooftop solar cost and benefit variables identified by Nevada’s Public Utilities Commission were quantified for the first time in the peer-reviewed paper, said SolarCity.
SolarCity’s chief policy officer, Jon Wellinghoff, said, “This study confirms what Nevadans already intuitively know: the thousands of rooftop solar systems across the state benefit all Nevadans, and the state should have policies which encourage the deployment of more distributed energy.”
Wellinghoff, formerly the chairman of the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), pushed Nevada policymakers to consider the potential of distributed energy resources in building a smarter, more resilient grid for powering the economy with affordable clean energy.
Last year, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada identified 11 variables that needed to be quantified to determine the costs and benefits of rooftop solar in Nevada, noted SolarCity. The analysis is vital in setting sound energy policies, according to the company, but the Commission determined that sufficient data needed for quantifying nine of the variables was not available.
The Commission’s 2015 analysis left some variables unassessed, and the SolarCity/NRDC paper examines them in hopes of providing useful input for future Nevada policy discussions on the benefits of distributed solar generation.