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December 4, 2021

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Solar employees storm Public Utilities Commission

Solar

Bombard Electric electricians Frank Cudia and Tina Long, on the roof, and Debbie Long install solar panels on a home in Las Vegas.

With less than four weeks remaining before consumers max out the state’s cap on new rooftop solar installation, dozens of solar employees stormed the Public Utilities Commission this morning to ask regulators to keep their industry alive.

Bruce Rogol, project manager with Robco Electric, a solar installation company with about 75 employees, expressed frustration about NV Energy’s cap projections. The company told lawmakers and the solar industry that the cap wouldn’t be hit until next year, he said.

“We thought this was done. Then NV Energy says we only have four weeks left until the cap is hit,” he said.

Members of the solar industry are unhappy after NV Energy, the state’s largest power company, recently announced the limit would be met far earlier than expectations. NV Energy battled in Carson City earlier this year to prevent an increase in the cap, telling lawmakers and solar representatives that the cap wouldn’t be hit until March 2016.

Lawmakers, NV Energy officials and solar representatives reached a compromise that increased the cap, while mandating that by Dec. 31, the PUC determine a new price structure for the rooftop customers.

Whether those new regulations would take effect before or after the cap hits its limits has the industry worried.

Martin Wyle, a SolarCity regional sales director who spoke at the PUC, said the ambiguity surrounding the cap was raising concerns.

“If we hit the cap next month, there is a five-month delay between the old rules and the new rules,” Wyle said. “What do we do with our customers, installers, employees while we are in a holding pattern?”

“That’s the 64,000-dollar question. I am not sure I can answer it now,” Alaina Burtenshaw, PUC chairwoman, said after the meeting. Burtenshaw said she doesn’t think the “solar industry stops when the cap is reached.”

While many of the solar employees would prefer to see the cap eliminated, industry officials are also worried about what to tell customers in the coming weeks about the cost of installing and generating power with rooftop solar.

In addition, Bryan Miller, vice president of public policy and power markets at Sunrun, which has at least 1,000 Nevada employees, expressed concerns the PUC won’t have enough time to properly vet NV Energy’s price proposal, due to be submitted next month.

Burtenshaw said the commission would pursue due diligence on any proposal.

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