SolarCity leaves Nevada and 2,000 local workers after PUC gives Warren Buffet’s NV Energy a monopoly on solar

solarcity_installers

SolarCity announced yesterday that it will cease sales and installations in Nevada after the state’s Public Utilities Commission approved a 75% reduction of the price electric utilities pay for electricity generated from rooftop solar. The new rule makes net-metering uneconomical and “effectively shut down” the homeowner and 3rd party-owned rooftop solar industry in Nevada, giving a monopoly to utility-owned systems.

Just days before Christmas, the timing of the ruling is difficult for the 2,000 local workers SolarCity says it employs in Nevada. SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive on the announcement:

“This is a very difficult decision but Governor Sandoval and his PUC leave us no choice. The people of Nevada have consistently chosen solar, but yesterday their state government decided to end customer choice, damage the state’s economy, and jeopardize thousands of jobs,”

But it’s also an early Christmas gift to Warren Buffet’s NV Energy, which not only effectively gains a monopoly on future solar energy installations, but also sees a major reduction of the price it pays for excess energy to existing customers.

These customers, over 12,000 of them including schools, purchased their solar installations based on return on investment calculations using the state’s net-metering rules, but they will not be grandfathered into the model and instead will have to follow the new pricing model.

SolarCity describes the situation as a “massive bait and switch”, where the state “helped bring” SolarCity to Neveda and incentivized customers to go solar before turning on them with this new ruling.

SolarCity and other solar installers are reportedly evaluating the possibility of lawsuit against the ruling.

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Comments

  1. Jim Wright - 7 years ago

    This would be surprising considering Gov. Sandoval’s support for the Gigafactory and Faraday Future in our state until you see the world’s richest man behind this. As a result, the average consumer gets screwed, along with the planet, over politics and greed. This is truly disgusting considering Nevada should be the solar capital of the country. So much for forward thinking. Back to the cave.

  2. WalksOnDirt - 7 years ago

    With the monopoly status of utilities, it is hard to know whether a 75% cutback in the price paid to solar is fair or not, but I’m sure the old system was unfair to the utility and all its non-solar customers.

    • total9jim - 7 years ago

      “Unfair”” and “monopolistic utilities ” go hand in hand. Solar customers were an incredibly small percentage of their customer base so don’t feel too sorry for NV Energy. Let’s all rejoice the monopoly, and keep our heads in the sand, when we get our next rate increase and see the rest of the country (and the world) pass Nevada by.

  3. Darryl Jeremy Naidoo - 7 years ago

    This is exactly what the NZ government did last December!

  4. Joe - 7 years ago

    The old NetMetering system gave the user credit for their excess solar at RETAIL rates. So the utility could have been used as an electricity storage system at no charge. With this new NetMetering system solar still makes sense but a user now needs to purchase their own storage system such as Tesla Powerwall. The utility is no longer providing that service for free.

    The previous arrangement was too good to be true, and wasn’t sustainable nor scalable. “Why would a supplier of a commodity be forced to pay the RETAIL price to buy that commodity from their customer?” That would be like Macy’s being required to pay me full RETAIL price for sweaters I brought into their stores that were knitted by my cousin Luigi and looked similar to other sweaters they already carried, but weren’t identical.

    • MorinMoss - 7 years ago

      Rooftop solar has lots of benefits that come almost for free to the utility, especially in very sunny places.
      The 1st is that the peak production is reasonably well-matched to peak demand, and reduces the utilities costs for buying power at peak rates which is usually MUCH higher than the retail price.Then since most of the consumption would be self-use or local, it reduces the strain on the transmission system.

      Another benefit can occur even when rooftop solar is not producing any electricity – the inverters can supply reactive power, although this is far more efficiently done by large installations. It’s required to keep the system running and a deficit of reactive power is a major cause of blackouts.

  5. quiviran - 7 years ago

    It will be interesting to see Elon Musks next partnership with Nevada, if there is one. Maybe the next GigaFactory winds up in??? One of the significant products of the GF is PowerWalls. Not much need to make them in a state hostile to the embedded concepts of distributed power generation. When the grid gets hacked, the effect of all this reliance on central power utilities will be clearly demonstrated.

  6. Anthony Lewis Ramsay - 7 years ago

    Criminal… sue, sue, sue those bastards…

  7. joehuber1952 - 7 years ago

    I’m a solar customer in California, and the only part of this story that bothers me is the changing of the rules for the existing solar customers. The other adjustments to the net metering rates seem fair and appropriate.

    • Joemama - 7 years ago

      Then why do these states prevent you from going off-grid? Is that still fair and appropriate?

      • joehuber1952 - 7 years ago

        I don’t know the logic behind mandates for grid connection. But I don’t think those were changed as part of this new regulation.

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