PATAGONIA JOINS THE BRING BACK SOLAR ALLIANCE

Reno, Nev. – Bring Back Solar announced today that Patagonia, the outdoor clothing company, has joined the Alliance in fighting to overturn the unpopular solar rate hike passed by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUC) in late December. While the PUC took an important step by grandfathering existing customers, the state still needs a solution to allow Nevadans to affordably install rooftop solar in the future. Patagonia, which employs 500 people at its LEED-certified Reno Service Center, donates 1% of sales annually to grassroots environmental organizations and earlier this year joined with four other B Corporation companies to launch a $35 million fund to help 1,500 U.S. households install rooftop solar – installations now unavailable to its Reno workforce and all Nevada residents as a result of the Commission’s rate hike.

Rose Marcario, Chief Executive Officer of Patagonia:

“As a CEO, I know the economic power of clean energy – that’s why we’re seeing great financial returns from Patagonia’s investments in residential solar. Unfortunately, while the clean energy economy is thriving almost everywhere else, Nevada is being left behind because regulators and the utility refuse to embrace clean alternatives to fossil fuels that will lower costs for consumers, drive infrastructure investment in Nevada and help improve the health of our planet. We’re proud to fight for our employees and all Nevadans who deserve affordable residential solar options."

Erin McCann, Bring Back Solar Campaign Manager:

“I’m thrilled to have Patagonia join the Bring Back Solar Alliance. Patagonia’s success demonstrates that growing a successful business and protecting the environment go hand-in-hand. We look forward to working with Patagonia to overturn the solar rate hike for the company’s 500 employees in Reno, and for all Nevadans.”

The Bring Back Solar Alliance, composed of Nevada businesses, non-profits, and outraged homeowners, is fighting to overturn the unpopular solar rate hike passed by the PUC in late December. The Alliance is supported by over 115,000 Nevadans that want Nevadans to have the right to generate their own clean energy without being punished with discriminatory fees.

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The Bring Back Solar Alliance is the alliance that supports the No Solar Tax PAC.  The No Solar Tax PAC is supported by Nevada citizens, homeowners, businesses, and not-for-profits, working together to bring back Nevada solar, clean energy jobs, and energy choice.

Bring Back Solar Alliance statement on agreement to grandfather existing solar customers

In response to yesterday's filing of a stipulation negotiated by SolarCity, NV Energy, the Bureau of Consumer Protection, and PUC Staff, Erin McCann, Campaign Manager of the Bring Back Solar Alliance, issued the following statement:

“We applaud the solution reached by SolarCity, NV Energy, the Bureau of Consumer Protection, and Public Utilities Commission Staff that would grandfather Nevada’s 32,000 rooftop solar customers on the net metering program they signed up under. We encourage the Public Utilities Commission to make the right choice for Nevada’s solar customers and our economy, and approve the stipulation without further delay.”

BRING BACK SOLAR STATEMENT ON SUPREME COURT DECISION TO AFFIRM LOWER COURT RULING

Las Vegas, Nev. – In response to the Supreme Court’s decision today to affirm the lower court’s ruling on the solar referendum, Erin McCann, Campaign Manager for Bring Back Solar, issued the following statement:

“While we’re disappointed that the Court ruled in such a way that the people of Nevada will not be able to vote on this issue, it clarifies the role Nevada’s leadership must play in representing the majority of Nevadans who want to bring solar back to Nevada. Working together with legislators, key stakeholders, and Nevada’s hundreds of thousands of solar supporters, we look forward to crafting strong solar policies that give Nevadans the freedom to power their homes and communities with clean solar energy.”

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OP-ED: UTILITY PROPOSALS HARM CONSUMERS AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Andre Delattre is executive director of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and the U.S. PIRG Education Fund.

Solar power has taken off in Nevada and across the country. Driven by the appeal of a pollution-free energy source with no fuel costs, rooftop panels have popped up in neighborhoods across the state bringing transformative change to our energy system.

In response, power companies are throwing road blocks in the way of solar power’s progress, undercutting the right of consumers to control how much energy they consume and produce. If the utilities win it will become harder, if not impossible, for most consumers to go solar.

Utilities recognize that people overwhelmingly support clean energy and want fair credit for the value that rooftop solar provides the grid and the community. So they spin their anti-solar policies as pro-clean energy and pro-consumer. They’ve even gone so far as to create fake solar front groups to counteract the uniform opposition to their proposals from solar companies and rooftop solar owners.

I’ve seen this strategy time and again from powerful special interests, whether its regarding bank fees, retirement security, or utility bills. Our staff in Arizona and Illinois are currently opposing proposals similar to the one in Nevada — and dealing with similar strategies to confuse the public and decision makers.

Utility arguments rest on the claim that the current policy for compensating rooftop solar users for the excess energy their solar panels provide to the grid — known as “net-metering” — is unfair to non-solar using consumers. They claim a cost-shift occurs wherein customers without solar panels pay extra to subsidize those with them

This claim is not supported by evidence.

If anything, net-metering undervalues, not overvalues, the benefits of rooftop solar. Rooftop solar reduces the need for costly transmission lines and new power plants, increases the reliability and resiliency of the power grid, and helps Nevada comply with regulations that seek to reduce carbon emissions.

Here in Nevada, a recent report by the Natural Resources Defense Council and SolarCity found those benefits added up to $7 million per year.

A report released last summer by Environment America Research and Policy Center reviewed 11 separate analyses of the value of rooftop solar. Eight of them concluded that prevailing rate structures undervalue rooftop solar. The three that reached a different conclusion were funded by utilities.

The NV Energy plan approved by the Nevada Public Utilities Commission tripled the “fixed charge,” the part of your bill that remains the same no matter how much energy you consume. It also lowered the net-metering credit for rooftop solar customers, making it harder for consumers to finance home solar panels and nearly impossible to earn back their initial investment.

Even worse, these charges will also be placed on the 30,000 Nevadans who went solar, punishing consumers for their investments in clean energy.

The response has been clear and unambiguous: The new rate structure simply does not work for Nevada consumers. After the PUC decision, solar applications in Nevada plummeted by 93 percent in the first month alone, from 1,311 applications in December 2015 to 90 in January 2016. The new rate structure, justified as consumer friendly, has effectively eliminated consumers’ ability to choose to go solar.

This is a loss, not only for individuals who want to go solar, but for all Nevadans who are losing out on the environmental, economic, public health and infrastructure benefits of rooftop solar. The new rates have devastated Nevada’s solar industry, forcing thousands of jobs and economic development out of state. Nevada was recently a guiding beacon for other states as a leader in solar growth. That beacon has turned into a distress signal, warning what can go wrong when utilities convince decision makers to adopt anti-consumer, anti-solar policies.

There is room for debate in any policy dispute, but only if all sides are fairly representing their interests and goals. Utilities are attempting to disempower consumers by making it harder to control energy usage and renewable energy production. Don’t let them.

Published: 

Las Vegas-Review Journal, July 19, 2016