Nevada governor signs law to revive rooftop solar industry

Public pressure prompts reversal of unfriendly solar policies.

By Elizabeth Shogren/High Country News

A year and a half after Nevada virtually shut down its thriving rooftop solar industry, Gov. Brian Sandoval signed a bill last week designed to bring it back. It was among eight clean and high-tech energy bills recently considered by the state legislature. Sandoval also signed laws crafted to install charging stations for electric vehicles and incentivize energy efficiency.

But Sandoval also vetoed a widely supported bill that would have increased the state’s requirement for renewable energy in its electricity supply from 25 percent by 2025 to 40 percent by 2030. And he rejected a bill designed to establish community solar projects, where renters and low-income Nevadans could participate in generating solar power.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval signs a bill to bring back the rooftop solar industry. He’s accompanied by state legislators who promoted the bill and owners of solar businesses. Courtesy of Vote Solar

The vetoes did not negate the importance of renewable energy, which is “immensely popular” in Nevada, the Republican governor said. He emphasized that the bills he did sign solidify Nevada’s position as a leader in clean energy. At a signing ceremony last Thursday, he sat at a desk made out of a solar panel at a Tesla warehouse in Las Vegas. “I believe humbly that (the state’s rooftop solar industry) will be a national model across the country. I’m as competitive as it gets and I really want Nevada to truly be a leader in energy policy,” Sandoval said.

>>> Read more about the enthusiasm for clean energy laws in Nevada and Sandoval’s explanation about the vetoes.