Nevadans will have their opportunity to speak up for a clean energy economy at hearings to be conducted Monday, Sept. 26, in Las Vegas and Thursday, Sept. 29, in Reno by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada, which regulates energy markets in the state. Members and allies of the RenewNV coalition working for clean renewable energy will offer detailed comments on the state of Nevada’s commitment to solar, wind and geothermal energy and energy efficiency at the hearings.

NOTE TO MEDIA: The Sierra Club, the Moapa Band of Paiutes, Bring Back Solar and Chispa Nevada, a RenewNV coalition member, will hold a press conference on renewable energy issues at noon Monday outside the PUCN offices, 9075 West Diablo Drive, Las Vegas, Nevada.

The PUCN Consumer Sessions come about nine months after the commission instituted new rates for families who had invested in rooftop solar systems to provide them with clean energy. The PUCN’s decision raised fees and significantly reduced the rate at which solar customers are credited for their valuable excess power. The rule change adversely impacted both future customers and an estimated 32,000 Nevadans who had already invested in local solar power.

The rate change also essentially destroyed the once-promising residential rooftop solar industry in Nevada, the state with the most abundant supply of free solar energy in the country. Earlier in September, the PUCN “grandfathered” existing rooftop solar investors and people with contracts for rooftop systems; while clean-energy advocates greeted the move with enthusiasm, they also noted that it would not spur new investment or bring back the rooftop solar industry to Nevada.

Rudy Zamora, director of Chispa Nevada, a RenewNV coalition group working to rally Latino residents behind clean energy, noted the grandfathering decision while saying more has to be done.

“We applaud the Nevada Public Utilities Commission’s unanimous decision to grandfather in service agreements and maintain rates for 32,000 existing customers who have already installed solar panels in their homes,” he said. “This decision is not only beneficial to our community, but to low income families who depend on solar, the alternative source of electricity, to avoid environmental pollution while significantly reducing costs and gaining access to this vital resource. Nevadans deserve to have the opportunity to choose our energy source, especially in a state that provides more than 300 days a year of sunshine. We hope that our legislators take action to justly regulate the installation and use of residential and commercial solar energy in Nevada for our well-being and our future generations.”

Andy Maggi, Executive Director of the Nevada Conservation League Education Fund, another RenewNV coalition member, urged the PUCN to listen to Nevadans calling for a clean energy economy. 

“We know that Nevadans from across the state want the clean energy that is going to grow our economy,” Maggi said. “We hope to see the Nevada Public Utility Commission itself emerge out of these sessions as a partner with all Nevadans to make us the leading user and producer of clean renewable energy that will expand and bring stability to our economy, create good paying jobs, reduce pollution, and lower rates.”

State law requires the PUCN to take comments from the public at two general consumer sessions annually, one in Clark County and the other in Washoe County. The PUCN will hold the consumer sessions in Las Vegas on Monday at 1 and 6 p.m. at the PUCN offices at 9075 West Diablo Drive, Suite 250.