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:
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
As the Trump administration moves full speed ahead on boosting the oil and fossil fuel industry, opposition to increased pipeline construction is cropping up in different communities around the country.
By Simon Evans
Last Saturday, two dead whales washed up on the coast of Suffolk, in eastern England, and a third was spotted floating at sea.
What happened next illustrates how news can spread and evolve into misinformation, when reported by journalists rushing to publish before confirming basic facts or sourcing their own quotes.
By Monica Amarelo and Paul Pestano
Sun safety is a crucial part of any outdoor activity for kids, and sunscreen can help protect children's skin from harmful ultraviolet rays. Kids often get sunburned when they're outside unprotected for longer than expected. Parents need to plan ahead and keep sun protection handy in their cars or bags.
By Joe McCarthy
A lot of people take part in community clean-up efforts—spending a Saturday morning picking up litter in a park, mowing an overgrown field or painting a fence.
A coalition of conservation groups and others announced Thursday that a historic number of comments and petitions of support have been submitted to the U.S. Department of the Interior in support of Bears Ears National Monument. Despite the entirely inadequate 15-day comment period ending on May 26, more than 685,000 comments in support of Bears Ears National Monument have been collected.
By Lena Moffitt
An oil tanker in Mead, Colorado exploded, killing one and injuring three on Thursday. Authorities are continuing to investigate the cause of the explosion.
In an unusual procedural move, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers filed motions Thursday requesting the court's permission to withdraw from the Juliana v. US climate lawsuit, brought by 21 young people. The associations are following the lead of the National Association of Manufacturers, who filed a similar motion to withdraw on May 22.