Las Vegas Sun

August 16, 2017

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Report: Nevada’s growing solar industry facing big slowdown



In this file photo, Vivint Solar employees install solar panels on a home.

Despite emerging regulatory uncertainty, the solar industry in Nevada employed more workers last year than all states except Massachusetts and California, according to a report released today by the nonprofit Solar Foundation.

With 8,764 solar jobs in 2015, Nevada also led all states in industry jobs per capita. The number of jobs is up from 5,900 in 2014, when Nevada ranked seventh nationally for total solar jobs.

But with rooftop solar companies laying off workers here in reaction to a decision that will increase energy bills for customers, the report said growth is expected to taper.

In December, state regulators increased the fixed service charge solar customers pay NV Energy and slashed the value of credits customers can earn for generating excess energy.

Before the decision, the Solar Foundation predicted 2016 solar job growth in Nevada would be about 18 percent — above the projected national average. Now, however, growth “will likely be considerably less,” the report said.

Nevada solar jobs are largely related to the installation of rooftop panels, a sector that accounted for 8,285 of the state’s 8,764 jobs. As a result, the report said, “Nevada’s solar economy is highly dependent on the residential rooftop solar business, where most installation jobs are typically found.”

Last month, national rooftop installer SolarCity announced it was moving its installation teams out of Nevada, resulting in the loss of at least 550 jobs. Sunrun also announced the layoff of nearly 200 employees.

According to the report, Nevada had 116 solar companies last year.

The jobs survey was compiled with information gathered from nearly 288,000 telephone calls and 44,000 emails, producing a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent. The Solar Foundation, which advocates for solar energy, provides research on the industry.

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