Nevada's solar debacle reveals a utility industry under stress

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Until recently, Nevada was the darling of America’s booming solar industry. That is, until a legacy electric utility with an interest in fossil fuels lobbied regulators to raise rates for solar customers and chased third-party solar developers such as SolarCity out of the Silver State.

The Nevada power struggle is being played out in a number of locales nationwide where old and ingrained utilities face some difficult questions: How can they compete with new technology when all they know is to sell ever-more energy at ever-higher rates?

How can they incorporate in their business models new energy sources such as rooftop solar that they don’t sell? And how can these power companies recoup the billions of dollars some of them unwisely spent on outdated coal plants?

NV Energy in Nevada played tough. Result: 700-plus workers lost their jobs, 17,000 power customers with solar panels on their roofs will see bills soar, and the state lost a bright solar future.

The Nevada upheaval makes even less sense when utilities in other states are already demonstrating an alternative that works for new energy players as well as old ones.

These utilities get creative by treating energy as a service, not a commodity. And they test out new relationships with their customers. It means they continue to thrive in our changing energy economy without punishing solar customers or slowing our transition to a cleaner future.

James D. Marston

James D. Marston

Jim Marston is the founding director of EDF's Texas office, located in Austin, where he has served since its beginning in 1988.

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Comments

Nevada Energy are corrupt and should be investigated. Citizens will ultimately use solar independent of this company as soon as the alternative is possible. Thus, being completely independent of the grid.

Add a zero to that 700 and that's a more realistic number of solar jobs lost in Nevada. Solar City alone dropped more than that!

NV Energy is a seriously financially bloated company with enormous profits, and they want to squeeze the peasants even harder...So Berkshire and Buffet can add even more billions to what they already have! NV Energy is just one more corporation following the disgusting trend in America.To greedily grab all the money they can!

Do the math on NV Energy. They should be criminally prosecuted!