In Las Vegas, solar supporters celebrated Earth Day by taking to the street–West Sahara Avenue that is. Specifically, both sides of West Sahara Avenue right in front of NV Energy. The rally united 700 solar employees, customers and advocates calling for the state to increase an unnecessary cap on one of its most important rooftop solar policies. Those who couldn’t make it in person showed their support online with a social media Thunderclap.
Recent solar price declines coupled with good existing policies mean that Nevadans are increasingly harnessing the state’s plentiful sunshine to meet their own power needs. Nevada is now the third-fastest growing solar PV state in the country and supports 5,900 jobs. That’s the highest number of solar jobs per capita in the country!
Solar doesn’t just create jobs and reduce emissions–it saves water too. Electricity used to power our homes consumes more water than all other household activities combined. 1 kWh of gas-fired electricity generation requires .26 gallons of water. Compare that to 0 gallons used by solar, and you’ve got yourself some serious water savings. 108,375,000 gallons by 2021 to be exact–and that’s just in NV Energy territory.
Despite the myriad benefits of solar, the future of solar in Nevada hangs on an arbitrary 3% cap on net metering, the program the makes sure solar customers receive fair credit for the power they deliver to the grid for NV Energy to resell. Nevada’s cap is expected to be reached as early as this summer and when that happens, Nevada slams the brakes on solar.
A bill seeking to raise the net metering cap to 10 percent was introduced by Senator Patricia Farley, R-Las Vegas, but later amended to remove the issue from the measure. Meanwhile, a study commissioned by the Nevada Public Utilities Commission at the request of the 2013 Legislature concluded that by reducing the need for expensive and polluting traditional power infrastructure, net metering provides millions of dollars in benefits to all NV Energy customers. Despite NV Energy being involved in the open and transparent stakeholder process that resulted in the PUCN study, the utility is now opposing the numbers to try to stall rooftop solar progress.
A recent Nevada poll found that 74% of voters would be less likely to vote to re-elect their legislator or a statewide politician if he or she failed to raise the solar cap. Let’s make sure those elected officials know where Nevadans stand on solar! Join us in urging Governor Sandoval to clear the way for more solar rooftops in Nevada. You can also show your support for raising the net metering cap by tweeting here:
And if anyone doubts Nevada’s solar potential, I’ve got the sunburn from the rally to prove it (even with sunscreen)!