Small Solar Means Big Economic Benefits in Nevada


Nevada lawmakers are considering significantly increasing the amount of rooftop solar energy systems on the state’s homes and businesses – a move that would empower energy consumers to go solar and provide local economic opportunity in one fell swoop.

Nevada already has a strong track record of developing large-scale solar power plants. Utility-scale projects like Nevada Solar One have helped make the state top in the nation in solar per capita. But the state’s rooftop or “distributed” solar market has not kept pace – largely because the SolarGenerations rebate program for Nevada energy consumers is consistently oversubscribed and underfunded. That means Nevadans aren’t investing in solar as they’d like to and the state is missing out on a significant piece of the solar economic opportunity pie.

New policy being considered would expand the SolarGenerations program to a solid 400 MW of new distributed solar by 2020 – up from 35 MW today. That’s enough rooftop PV to power 80,000 homes. It would get Nevada’s rooftop solar market off the start/stop cycle and chart a clear path for long-term economic growth.

Just how much economic growth? Funny you should ask. Using the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s JEDI model and real-world inputs from local Nevada solar industry experience, Vote Solar and the Clean Energy Project NV have produced a report on how many new jobs, wages and state revenues the state can expect as a result of the 400 MW DG plan.

  • An average of 1159 high quality clean energy jobs per year over the 8-year program.
  • $1.34 billion in total economic output (ie: value of goods and services) as a result of the installation and operation of the systems.
  • $564 million in wages and salaries for the local workforce over the lifetime of the systems.
  • $68.1 million in sales taxes paid to help the state meets its budgetary needs.

You can read the full report here. Our own Claudia Eyzaguirre presented the findings at a committee hearing in Carson City yesterday.

Here’s what she had to say about it: “Solar energy creates more jobs per megawatt than any other energy resource. But in order for Nevada to tap solar’s tremendous economic potential, it needs policies that provide sustained opportunities for residents and businesses to go solar alongside traditional power generators. The Solar Jobs Now proposal provides that opportunity. We’re excited to see strong support for the policy from both local and national solar companies eager to invest in building Nevada’s solar future.”

Added our local partner Lydia Ball, executive director of Clean Energy Project, “For years Nevada’s SolarGenerations program has enabled numerous homeowners to put solar energy on their homes creating a new industry for Nevada. However, the successful program has been limited due to its narrow scope. Giving stability to the program through the Solar Jobs Now proposal will unleash more private investment through smart policies that deliver lasting economic opportunity and value to Nevadans.”

Vote Solar is a non-profit grassroots organization working to fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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