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Despite Backlash, Regulators Deny Request To Halt Solar Rate Changes

Black Rock Solar, Flickr, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Nevada's Public Utility Commission has denied a petition that would halt recently approved rate changes for rooftop solar users. This is despite swift and angry backlash by both solar companies and their customers. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey reports.

The Bureau of Consumer Protection had filed a petition asking to suspend the rate hikes that went into effect January 1st for customers.

Dozens of those upset customers spoke out during a day-long hearing in Carson City Wednesday, calling the commission's decision unfair and short-sighted.

One of those speakers, Candace Mayfield of Las Vegas, says their frustrations appear to be falling on deaf ears.

"Word for the days is: Flabbergasted," she began. "It's shocking to think that three people decided that none of us has the right to reduce our utility bills, enjoy tax write-offs, rebate refunds while contributing to the environment. Instead we're being rolled over for NV Energy to make more money."

The commission also heard from small business owners, employees recently laid off from large solar companies and actor Mark Ruffalo, who made a brief appearance.

Commissioner Paul Thomsen says the changes are fair, especially to NV Energy customers who are not using solar panels:

"Mark Ruffalo was exciting, but it doesn't make me uncomfortable to try to protect the 98 percent of residents in this state who don't have net-metering on their roofs."

Despite Wednesday's decision, this conversation isn't over and the commission is expected to hear several more petitions challenging the ruling later this year.

Julia Ritchey is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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