Nevada: SolarCity announces 550 job losses, closes training center

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Following changes to net metering made by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) on December 22, which included an increase in basic service charges, new rate structures and a shift from retail to wholesale rates for excess generation, SolarCity has said 550 jobs will be lost in the U.S. state. The company lays the blame for the ruling on Governor Brian Sandoval.

In a statement released yesterday, the U.S.’ largest residential rooftop solar PV installer said it would try and relocate the affected employees to more "business-friendly" states. It added that the training center it opened in West Las Vegas at the end of November 30 has also closed down.

At the time, SolarCity expected the center to train up to 4,000 workers annually. "Our homegrown solar industry has already created over 6,000 good Nevada jobs, and has tremendous potential to continue driving innovation, economic diversification, and opportunity in the Silver State," commented Governor Sandoval at the opening.

In yesterday’s release, SolarCity said the decision "to punish existing solar customers after the state encouraged them to go solar with rebates is particularly callous and leaves Nevadans to question whether the state would ever place the financial security of regular citizens above the financial interests of NV Energy." It added that thousands of other Nevadans working in the solar industry will be affected in the coming months.

SolarCity, which employs over 13,000 people in the U.S., set up shop in Nevada in 2013. The day after the ruling, it announced it would cease sales and installation activity in the U.S. state, effective immediately.

Not giving up hope entirely, however, CEO, Lyndon Rive said he had contacted Governor Sandoval, "because I am convinced that he and the PUC didn’t fully understand the consequences of this decision, not only on the thousands of local jobs distributed solar has created, but on the 17,000 Nevadans that installed solar with the state’s encouragement." He believes once they do understand, they will "do the right thing."

Other solar industry advocates have also been speaking up against the decision, including the Nevada Bureau of Consumer Protection, which filed a motion to halt implementation of the ruling in December, just after the announcement. Meanwhile, fellow third-party residential solar company, SunRun announced last month it would file suit through the Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC), and was already suing Governor Sandoval.