What a difference three weeks makes in the uncertain world of Nevada political favoritism

With sunny-weather friends like these, who needs …

In a Nov. 30 press release a Nevada company boasted about opening a job training center that would train 4,000 workers a year in the skills needed for its industry.

The press release quoted assorted Nevada elected officials heaping praise on the company:

“I’m proud to celebrate the opening of (the company’s) new training center, which will make Nevada the regional hub for training workers in the jobs of the 21st century,” said Governor Brian Sandoval. “Our homegrown … industry has already created over 6,000 good Nevada jobs, and has tremendous potential to continue driving innovation, economic diversification, and opportunity in the Silver State.”

Senator Harry Reid, whose office presented a certificate to commemorate the event, celebrated the opening saying, “Thank you for your contributions to the … industry in Southern Nevada.”

“(This) is the future of Southern Nevada,” said Representative Dina Titus of Nevada’s First Congressional District. “(The company’s) new workforce training center will provide opportunities for people from across the region to learn new skills, contribute to our economy, and build a better … world for generations to come.”

Senator Aaron Ford, Democratic Leader of the Nevada Senate, Senator Ruben Kihuen, and other state and local officials joined (the company) leadership to cut the ribbon at the new facility today.

“The opening of (the company’s) Regional Training Center means more good jobs in one of Nevada’s most important and forward-thinking industries,” said Senator Aaron Ford, Democratic Leader of the Nevada State Senate. “Growing our … industry is not only good for our economy, but it will help our state continue to move towards a … future. I’m proud to help welcome this facility to Las Vegas and, more particularly, to Senate District 11.”

Oh yes, “the company” was SolarCity and the training would be in how to install rooftop solar panels. That was until three weeks after the press release came out. That was when the Public Utilities Commission changed the rates for so-called net metering customers of NV Energy — adding a delivery surcharge and slashing the credit residential and small business solar panel owners receive for uploading power to the grid.

The day after the decision, SolarCity announced it is ceasing installation work in Nevada. In that press release three weeks earlier, the company said it already employed 2,000 Nevadans. There were reportedly 6,000 people employed in rooftop solar panel installation in the state.

According to GreenTechMedia.com, The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) calculated that NV Energy’s new rates would add $40 to monthly bills of most solar customers, who currently save only $11 to $15 a month on their electricity bills. Do the math.

SolarCity is the same company that just two years ago received a $1.2 million taxpayer handout from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development for opening operations in Nevada.

To add insult to injury, that Nov. 30 press release contained this boiler plate disclaimer:

This release contains forward-looking statements including, but not limited to, statements regarding future hiring and company expansion, and customer cost savings. Forward-looking statements should not be read as a guarantee of future performance or results, and will not necessarily be accurate indications of the times at, or by, which such performance or results will be achieved, if at all. Forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual performance or results to differ materially from those expressed in or suggested by the forward looking statements.

Among those risks and uncertainties is the possibility that fawning politicians will pull the rug out from under you.

What a fine fettle the fickle finger of favoritism has foisted on this former friend.

Ribbon cutting a new training facility (Press release photo)

3 comments on “What a difference three weeks makes in the uncertain world of Nevada political favoritism

  1. Bruce Kester says:

    For those scoffing that SolarCity might just be blowing PR smoke, the ax is truly falling. To wit, an installer neighbor has just been laid off. I bought my system from a much smaller company and their prospects are they look to be put out of business.

    Not to just harp again on my soapbox, but why is so much antagonism infuriating the solar haters over subsidies? I wish someone would quantify the beginning-to-end gravy train of tax benefits and subsidies NV Energy enjoys. Obviously the haters can’t see the equivalence of corporate welfare vs an anti-solar perceived cost to non-solar customers. How is everyone’s mortgage interest deduction any different – renter vs. home owner? Have vs. have-not?

    I maintain the inconsequential percentage of rooftop solar installations NVE will allow can’t cripple the infra, or cost structure NVE has. What it affects is revenue stream especially when seen through the prism of their guaranteed ROI. Reduce the scope of new generation plants and facilities needed and you directly affect the capital in the picture for that ROI. Profits based on any dent to the revenue stream have them screaming like a small child.

  2. Mike Coster says:

    The subsidy program that SolarCity demanded was unreasonable and unfair to utility customers. No different that me being able to take excess gasoline that I own down to the local station and demand that I be able to sell it to the station at retail price. And that, only after the station operator was required to install the pipes, metering, and hardware to accept my gasoline at no cost to me.
    Leaving aside the fact that solar is not economically viable yet, if Nevada wants to encourage it, the legislature should be upfront and subsidize it. (They won’t.) Not hide the cost in rates to all users, without regard to volume or use of the power, in a way that hides the true costs.

  3. Bruce Kester says:

    Mike – If the “fairness” issue of costs to non-solar neighbors is your argument, try looking at it this way: Everything involved with NVE’s infrastructure is in the” wire” going to my house, right up to my meter. I buy an electron and pay all taxes, fees and costs for it. I now own it.

    If I then have an excess electron that I send to my meter, I own that electron, but the moment it passes through the meter it becomes the property of NV Energy to be sold like absolutely every other electron in the flow. They are completely in control of costs of the wire’s system up to, then, beyond my meter.

    Electrons are a “path of least resistance” entity and will just add to the existing flow to one’s neighbor. The longer the wire, the more resistance. Power generated 100’s of miles away incur tremendous penalties in delivery and infrastructure costs. NVE has successfully made you believe those same costs should be charged to my neighbor even if a source was 100 feet away.

    NVE gets delivery of transmission-free energy to sell at full price. Oh, but infrastructure burdens you say? Any system cost I cause can’t possibly be more than what I give NVE in management free energy to sell to my neighbor. I purchase an electron at full price and they sell my excess with essentially no overhead. Remember, I’m still paying for connection, base rate, taxes and fees in addition to what I buy.

    They have successfully convinced you that I don’t pay some infrastructure cost for energy I buy. How in the world can that happen? And the deception of massive expenditures for equipment supporting the massively, nearly uncontrollable balancing act now required to maintain the flow of the grid due to roof top solar panels?? Really???

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