Governor of Nevada rejects bill to expand access to solar for all

Governor of Nevada Brian Sandoval has vetoed a bill to expand solar access for all in the state, blocking an effort to bring hundreds of millions of dollars in clean energy investment to Nevada.  
Governor of Nevada rejects bill to expand access to solar for all

Governor Sandoval vetoed Senate Bill 392, legislation that was passed on a bipartisan basis by the Nevada Legislature. The bill would have made Nevada the 15th state in the US to have a community solar programme. It was endorsed by the community solar industry as well as national security leaders, faith communities, clean energy and public health advocates. SB 392 sought to establish a statewide community solar program and expand access to clean energy for more Nevada families and small businesses, including those who rent or can’t host solar on their own roofs.

“By deciding against creation of a community solar program, the Governor has blocked the opportunity to choose local clean energy for the majority of Nevadans, including renters, condo-owners, and low income families” said Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA) Executive Director Jeff Cramer. “Our industry will continue to invest in the 14 other states with community solar programmes, but this veto is a real loss for Nevada and its citizens. We look forward to continuing the conversation in Nevada: we have seen a clear demonstration that the public and the legislature want a community solar programme for the state and we will continue to work to provide opportunities for everyone to receive the benefits of solar.”

CCSA is a business-led trade organisation comprised of 32 member companies that works to expand access to clean, local, affordable energy nationwide through community solar. Our mission is to empower energy consumers, including renters, homeowners, businesses and households of all socio-economic levels, by increasing their access to affordable, reliable clean energy. CCSA, in partnership with a thriving network of non-profits, affiliate trade associations, and allied stakeholders, serves as the central voice for the community solar industry in developing vibrant and sustainable markets for community solar. 

Governor Sandoval has been criticised previously by the solar industry in Nevada. In 2015, the industry claimed that he failed to act on a statewide net energy metering cap of 235 MW, which was controversial because of its ability to negatively affect the future of the highly successful solar industry in the state. In particular, it is claimed that the cap has led to the loss of thousands of jobs within the state. A statewide study conducted by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada previously concluded there are widescale benefits for all ratepayers from net metering.

Following a poll in October 2015, which found that public perception of Governor Sandoval was largely favourable, awareness of the Governor’s unwillingness to protect the 6,000 jobs supported by solar in Nevada led to a decline in public support, with 54 percent of likely voters adopting an unfavourable view. A subsequent poll of Republican primary voters in New Hampshire found that 56 percent of all likely Republican primary voters in a key swing state would not vote for Governor Sandoval for Vice President in 2016, because of his failure to protect solar energy in Nevada.

In December 2015, a lawsuit was launched against the Governor by a Nevada solar company in a bid to release public records that the Governor’s office had withheld. These records included text messages between the Governor and his staff with lobbyists from NV Energy, a public utility that generates, transmits and distributes electricity in north and south Nevada. The solar company claims that the public has a right to know what impact the Governor’s relationships with those lobbyists have had on critical policy decisions, including those affecting rooftop solar.

On December 22, 2015, Governor Sandoval's Public Utilities Commission of Nevada, composed of Chairman Paul Thomsen, Commissioner David Noble and Commissioner Alaina Burtenshaw, voted to eliminate the state's net metering policy for rooftop solar. The aftermath of the decision resulted in widespread layoffs in the state and an outpouring of consumer backlash due to the direct penalisation of current and future solar customers.

For additional information:

Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA)

Tags: Solar , Jobs , Electricity
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