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Elon Musk vs. Warren Buffett: The Billionaire Battle Over the Future of Solar Power
The future of solar power has become a "battle of billionaires," Bloomberg Business reports. It's a battle that has pitted Elon Musk’s SolarCity against Nevada public utility NV Energy, part of Warren Buffett's business empire.
SolarCity, co-founded by Musk a decade ago, has become America's largest manufacturer and leaser of solar panels, operating in nearly two dozen states and generating about $350 million in annual revenue.
SolarCity has done particularly well in Nevada since entering the market there in 2014. Thanks to economic incentives and Nevada's solar abundance, SolarCity quickly became the state's leading installer of rooftop panels as Nevada amassed the highest percentage of solar energy of any state in the union.
But SolarCity and solar energy in general are threatened in Nevada. Part of SolarCity's success hinges on the fact that the state (like more than 40 other U.S. states) requires utilities to buy excess energy generated by homeowners' solar panels. This is known as net metering, which allows homeowners to offset the cost of their panels by selling any electricity they don't use back to the grid. But NV Energy is fighting these policies tooth and nail.
According to Bloomberg Business:
First, NV Energy deployed its lobbyists to limit the total amount of energy homeowners and small businesses were allowed to generate to 3 percent of peak capacity for all utilities. Then it expertly argued its case before regulators, who rewrote the rules for net-metering customers.
In December it scored a major win: Nevada’s Public Utilities Commission imposed rules that not only make it more expensive to go solar, but also make it uneconomical for those who’ve already signed up. Similar regulatory skirmishes are playing out in dozens of other states, but no other has gone as far as Nevada to undermine homeowners who’ve already installed solar arrays.
Clearly Nevada residents are not at all pleased and solar energy advocates worry that Nevada's policies could have a ripple effect in other states. However, clean energy scored two victories last week. On Monday, NV Energy announced a "grandfathering proposal," allowing the old rate structure for existing customers. And on Thursday, California's Public Utilities Commission narrowly voted to uphold net metering. Still, battles continue across the country as utilities continue to wage war against distributed generation solar.
For more on Nevada's solar fight, watch this video from Bloomberg Business:
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‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."