Anna Hofmann, Clean Energy Fellow, Environment Nevada (202) 461-2453, [email protected]
Zadie Oleksiw, Communications Manager, Vote Solar [email protected], 202-836-5754
LAS VEGAS – With solar power on the rise in Nevada and around the country, a national network of fossil fuel and utility-backed organizations have joined forces to put the brakes on this fast growing pollution-free energy resource, said a new report released today by Environment America Research & Policy Center.
Trade groups and think tanks backed by deep pocketed anti-clean energy ideologues and fossil interests are bankrolling campaigns, promoting model legislation and media campaigns to provide cover for anti-solar campaigns across the country and in Nevada, the report says.
The report comes on the heels of a long battle in Nevada over the state’s key solar program, net metering, which was dismantled by the Public Utilities Commission with the support of the state’s largest utility, NV Energy. While the state’s 32,000 current solar customers eventually were grandfathered in to the solar program they signed up under, an effort continues to urge legislators and regulators to fully restore customer’s ability to go solar affordably in Nevada. Higher fees still exist for future solar customers making new projects unaffordable and leaving the industry largely stalled in the state.
“Pollution-free solar energy represents Nevada’s most abundant energy resource,” said Anna Hofmann with Environment America. “For our climate and our environment, we can’t allow special interest forces in the fossil fuel industry to pull the plug on the bright potential of solar power.”
The report, Blocking the Sun, documents 17 fossil fuel backed groups and electric utilities running some of the most aggressive campaigns to slow the growth of solar energy in 12 states, including in Nevada.
Of the findings, the report documents how NV Energy, Nevada’s largest utility company and subsidiary of Warren Buffet’s own energy holding company, has used its wealth and political connections to influence key decisions that have significantly slowed down the progress of solar energy. NV Energy played a significant role in the 2015 decision of the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada to triple fixed charges to rooftop solar users and cut net metering credits. Additionally, the utility-funded groups like Citizens for Solar Energy Fairness to fight the campaign to bring solar back to Nevada.
In mid-2016, there were at least 84 ongoing policy actions in U.S. states that could impact the growth of solar energy, including through limitations to net metering or new charges to make rooftop solar power less economically viable.
“The PUCN is faced with an opportunity to serve Nevadans and respond to the call for clean energy progress and bringing solar jobs back to the Silver State,” said Jessica Scott, Interior West Regional Director at Vote Solar. “This report comes at a critical time as states nationwide are weighing the interests of citizens and the demand for energy choices, local jobs, and healthy communities.”
The report urges state decision makers to recognize and resist utility and fossil fuel industry influence that seeks to undermine solar energy and to instead encourage the growth of solar.
“Solar provides tremendous benefits, reducing pollution, saving consumers and businesses money, and revitalizing local economies,” said Hofmann. “Now, more than ever, Nevada must push back against anti-solar campaigns from special interests and lead the charge to transition our country to solar power and renewable energy.”
Environment America is a national federation of environmental advocacy organizations working for clean air, clean water and open space.
Vote Solar is a non-profit organization working to foster economic development and energy independence by bringing solar energy to the mainstream nationwide. Learn more at www.votesolar.org.