Governor Brian Sandoval announced today that the state is supporting hundreds of employees whose jobs are being eliminated as a result of solar companies ceasing operations in the wake of a Public Utilities Commission (PUC) ruling that will increase rooftop solar net-metering rates.
SolarCity and Sunrun have announced employee layoffs.
According to a statement in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “the PUC decision ‘forces Sunrun to displace our Nevada employees, inflicting enormous pain on hard-working Nevada families,’ said Bryan Miller, senior vice president of public policy and power markets at Sunrun. ‘Nevada passed incentives to attract residents to go solar. But after baiting homeowners with incentives, the state switched the rules, penalizing solar homeowners to deliver additional profit to NV Energy.”
Sandoval is encouraging the solar companies to work within legal mechanisms to resolve this issue, but he is clearly miffed at SolarCity’s recent statements.
“On Christmas Eve, my office was advised by Robert List, a SolarCity lobbyist, that Lyndon Rive, CEO of SolarCity, was initiating layoffs of 550 SolarCity employees as a result of the Nevada Public Utilities Commission’s decision regarding rooftop solar and net metering,” Sandoval said. “As a result, action was taken to deploy the State’s Rapid Response Team to provide affected SolarCity employees with resources to find new employment. The Rapid Response Team stands ready to host a job fair at SolarCity as soon as it is allowed to do so.”
Job placement services are being offered to the employees through the state’s Department of Employment Rehabilitation and Training.
The Governor also responded to statements by Rive, who allegedly encouraged the Governor to “do the right thing” with regard to the PUC’s decision.
“I attempted to call Mr. Rive on Christmas Eve regarding his layoff of 550 SolarCity employees,” Sandoval explained. “Mr. Rive did not answer my call, and I was later advised that he was in Mexico and unavailable. I am also unsure what Mr. Rive meant by his statement for me to ‘do the right thing.’ If such a statement suggests that I somehow influence the PUC’s decision Mr. Rive knows, or should know, that such conduct is inappropriate.
“My suggestion is that Mr. Rive respect the process and pursue his legal options which include seeking reconsideration of the order or ultimately judicial review. I have also called for the Nevada Consumer Advocate to engage in the case, which it has done.
“During my time as Governor, I have signed legislation benefiting the rooftop solar industry and supported an award of $1.2 million in economic development funds to SolarCity for employment and workforce development programs. I also signed legislation in 2015, with the public support of Mr. Rive, which initiated the very process at the PUC that he now disagrees with.”