Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016 | 4:04 p.m.
Nevada-based Go Solar is laying off 17 employees in Las Vegas and reducing the hours of 10 workers, the rooftop solar company announced today.
The cuts were prompted by a Public Utilities Commission ruling to gradually increase electric bills for solar customers over the next five years, Go Solar said in a statement.
It’s a substantial job loss for Go Solar, a small business that grew from four employees at its founding in 2009 to about 50 last year.
The company installs residential and commercial rooftop solar panels. It also focuses on energy efficiency measures in the home.
“Having to tell employees, who are like family, in this family-owned business that we no longer have work for them has been one of the most difficult things we’ve ever done,” Scott Shaw, director of research and development, said in a news release. “These were employees who have helped build our business during some of Nevada’s worst economic years.”
Last week, two national solar companies — SolarCity and Sunrun — announced more than 600 layoffs as they pulled their sales and installations teams from the state. The layoffs came after the commission’s decision to change electric rates for solar customers.
The new rates, implemented Jan. 1, increase a fixed fee for solar customers and reduce the value of credits earned for generating excess energy under a policy known as net metering.
The changes came with a reduction in the rate solar customers pay for electricity from NV Energy. But solar customers generally don’t buy enough electricity for that incentive to outweigh the other changes.
Solar advocates argued the changes would kill the industry in Nevada.
Hundreds of activists, customers and solar employees gathered in front of the commission’s Las Vegas headquarters Wednesday to express their concerns to the three-member panel as it held a procedural vote on temporarily halting the rates. After hours of public comment, the commission allowed the rates to remain in effect while it considers appeals.
Go Solar announced the layoffs today; employees received notice in late December, Shaw said.
Since the commission’s decision on rates, the company’s solar business has come to a halt.
“We’ve gone from five installations a week to zero,” he said.
The employees affected by the layoffs were installation crews. Go Solar was able to keep some of its employees and electricians because it provides additional services to residential and business clients, including air conditioning, heating and LED lighting, Shaw said.