1,000 Nevadans protest retroactive changes to net metering

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Officials with SolarCity estimate that 1,000 Nevada Residents, including solar customers and solar workers who are being laid off, are protesting at the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) building in Las Vegas.

Today PUCN is hearing a motion to delay the implementation of changes to the state’s net metering rules, which solar advocates say will destroy the state’s residential solar market. SolarCity says that after around 500 Nevada residents signed up to testify against the new rules, PUCN stopped accepting additional requests to speak before the agency.

Many have expressed concern that the changes to net metering will affect not only new customers but those who installed solar under the previous rules. As a result of the changes both SolarCity and Sunrun have announced their departure from the Nevada solar market, and are taking thousands of jobs with them.

Actor Mark Ruffalo and Tea Party activist Debbie Dooley addressed the crowd of solar supporters, which ranged across the political spectrum, including a presence by both the Libertarian Party of Nevada and the Bernie Sanders for President campaign.

"I’m here to fight for solar today," stated Mark Ruffalo, who has been a prominent proponent of clean energy in addition to his acting career. "This is reverse Robin Hood, taking from the poor and giving to the monopoly."

Nevada’s Bureau of Consumer Protection (BCP) and the Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) have joined state legislators in calling for a delay in the implementation of the new rules until appeals can be heard.

BCP, TASC, the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, Vote Solar Initiative and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) have jointly filed a motion for reconsideration, however this will be ruled on by the same PUCN members who voted 3-0 to implement the changes.

Additionally, TASC has filed a lawsuit against the changes.

What appears more important today is the public spotlight that PUCN and Nevada Governor Sandoval are coming under. Adding to the pressure, last week Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton criticized the PUCN decision, stating that it was important to protect the security of investments as the nation moves towards clean energy.

Update: This article was updated at 1:30 PM Eastern Time (U.S.) to include the quotes by Mark Ruffalo.