By Bryan Miller, co-chairman of The Alliance for Solar Choice
The solar job losses have started in Nevada. Last Thursday, the solar market ground to a halt when NV Energy, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy, claimed the state’s solar net metering cap was hit — despite NV Energy’s repeated assurances to the legislature that the cap would not be hit until next year. At a hearing last Friday, local solar companies testified that they have already had to lay off their sales teams. Vivint Solar, the second-largest solar company in the USA, recently shut down operations in Nevada.
But hope remains. Also on Thursday, Nevada’s ratepayer advocate, the Bureau of Consumer Protection (BCP), proposed a plan that would continue the existing solar net metering rules until the Public Utilities Commission completes long-term rules by the end of the year. BCP argued that NV Energy’s proposal was “unprecedented” and urged against a “rush to judgement or rush to implement such a radically different tariff.” BCP’s position is notable, because BCP’s job is to protect all Nevada consumers. NV Energy has cloaked its competition-killing proposal in the guise of ratepayer protection. But the ratepayer advocate disagrees. Even Commission staff acknowledged at Friday’s hearing that net metering has no impact on ratepayers. In fact, the Commission’s own study found that net metering is a benefit to all ratepayers.
Whether the solar market reopens now rests in the hands of Public Utilities Commissioners Alaina Burtenshaw, David Noble, and Rebecca Wagner, who are expected to decide the future of the industry tomorrow. The solar market is at a standstill as it awaits the Commission’s decision. As the Commissioners deliberate, the futures of Nevada’s 6,000 solar workers and their families hang in the balance.