Help Put Rooftop Solar on the Ballot in Nevada

The PUC eliminated rooftop solar to protect NV Energy’s monopoly. We’ve launched a campaign to put rooftop solar on the ballot in November and get it back. Join us!

Last December, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUC) passed anti-solar rules that destroyed the rooftop solar industry in America’s sunniest state. The rules eliminated Nevadans’ choice to go solar, imposed massive new fees on existing customers, and has already cost the state hundreds of jobs, with thousands more Nevadans facing layoffs in the coming months. And they did all that WITHOUT any evidence that NV Energy incurred any increased generation, transmission or distribution expenses that can be tracked back to the installation of residential solar arrays. Moreover, they undermined state policies and incentives that encouraged customers to go solar, created thousands of jobs, and made Nevada a national leader in clean energy. The PUC’s rules are unfair, they have damaged Nevada’s business-friendly reputation, and they only benefit the State’s monopoly utility, NV Energy. 

The PUC’s new rules allow NV Energy to take clean electricity from residential solar customers and sell it to their neighbors at a 300% markup, or even better, sell it on the open market for more than they can legally charge their customers, while crediting net-metered customers with a fraction of energy usurped. They also force solar customers to pay monthly fees 200% higher than other residential customers without solar arrays. In other words, the PUC granted NV Energy the right to usurp the investments made by residential customers who invested in solar arrays (but did nothing to penalize big box stores littered with solar panels on their roofs). That’s just wrong. NV Energy should not be allowed to take our electricity without fair compensation.

Meanwhile, all we’re seeing/hearing from Governor Sandoval?  Crickets!  Sign up now for Bring Solar Back‘s email list to join the fight and support the petition. Then, share and tweet your support to get your friends and neighbors on board.


Obama Takes a Walk on the Greener Side

As Nevada short-circuits its solar boom, the White House gets more committed to renewable energy.

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Emily Schwartz GrecoUntil now, President Barack Obama has embraced gas and oil fracking, encouraged the construction of new nuclear reactors, and hailed government investment in wind and solar power. In keeping with this “all-of-the-above” energy strategy, he’d call for climate action one minute and sign off on measures destined to boost carbon pollution the next.

Suddenly, it looks like Obama may have ditched his inherently contradictory approach.

“We’ve got to accelerate the transition away from dirty energy,” he asserted during his final State of the Union address. “I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet.”


Just three days later, the Obama administration moved in that direction by declaring a three-year moratorium on new leases to mine coal from federal land.

Obama’s speech also cast switching to renewable energy and phasing out fossil fuels in a business-friendly light.

“We’re taking steps to give homeowners the freedom to generate and store their own energy —  something environmentalists and tea partiers have teamed up to support,” he said. There’s plenty going on at a larger scale too. Wind and solar energy are generating more than half of the new power that came online last year.

The Republican Party’s obsession with “job creators” should make it a fan of green energy. Nearly 210,000 Americans now work for the solar industry, and some 73,000 are employed in the wind business. Renewable power forged at least 79,000 new jobs between 2008 and 2012 as 50,000 coal jobs vanished.

But the fossil fuel industries and their political allies won’t surrender without a fight. As Obama put it: “There are plenty of entrenched interests who want to protect the status quo.”

To see what he meant, check out what’s up in Nevada.

Right before Christmas, the state’s electric-sector regulators short-circuited policies that rewarded homeowners for investing in their own solar panels. Nevadans may end up paying for the privilege of generating their own electricity while simultaneously padding the profit margins of NV Energy, rather than getting compensated for it.

The Nevada Public Utility Commission, whose three members were all appointed by Republican governor Brian Sandoval, effectively killed demand for rooftop solar power and the jobs that diversifying industry would have created in Nevada—overnight. The new policies also punish consumers who previously bought or leased panels.

This about face prompted companies like SolarCity, Vivint, and Sunrun to shutter their operations in the state. SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive is calling this move an act of “sabotage,” and two Las Vegas residents have already filed a class action lawsuit.

Along with rigging the rules, fossil fuel lobbyists are trying to extract new political favors. The coal industry, for example, wants new government handouts from West Virginia’s cash-strapped government. And, there are rumblings about a federal bailout for Big Oil.

This money ought to support and ramp up the green transition, not delay it. That’s what Obama meant when he asserted: “Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future.”

And although polls have shown that government efforts to expand solar and wind power enjoy bipartisan support, GOP presidential contenders and many Republican leaders dismiss these increasingly competitive industries.

“Why would we want to pass up the chance for American businesses to produce and sell the energy of the future?” asked Obama, raising an excellent question. “The jobs we’ll create, the money we’ll save, and the planet we’ll preserve  —  that’s the kind of future our kids and grandkids deserve.”

Indeed. Supposedly pro-business politicians who are out to kill the green energy boom make no sense. Neither does an all-of-the-above energy strategy.

Columnist Emily Schwartz Greco is the managing editor of OtherWords, a non-profit national editorial service run by the Institute for Policy Studies.