Right before Christmas, Nevada regulators pulled the plug on rooftop solar incentives. Brutally, the move didn’t just undercut payments for utility customers with solar going forward, it retroactively reversed the deal on those who already invested thousands of dollars in panels:
“I feel cheated and robbed,” said Dale Matz, a retired chef who invested $30,000 in solar panels. He made the switch to solar both as a retirement decision and to help combat climate change.
Matz and Stewart are organizing a rally outside a PUC hearing on Wednesday. They hope that a demonstration with hundreds of disgruntled solar enthusiasts will inspire lawmakers to challenge the rule change.
The basic change is a new monthly fee of $40 for solar customers, completely gutting their monthly savings from panel leasing. Meanwhile, the payment for surplus energy that homeowners export to the grid will go from full retail value down to just one-third of that price.
The result is the total collapse of Nevada’s solar industry, with SolarCity laying off 550 people in the state. Plus the duped solar buyers.
Their best hope is probably a new legislature and governor who would be willing to overrule the regulatory decision. But that’s not likely to happen anytime soon. Overall, it’s a cautionary tale for solar homeowners in purple states, and a glimpse of what could have happened in California had utilities had their way.