Northern Nevada's Solar Panel Resurgence
We shine a light, on the return of rooftop solar…
The sun is shining again for longtime solar warrior Tom Polikalas of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. Net metering is back, once the governor signs what the legislature approved. Tom calls it, Nevada's solar revival: "It will be a tremendous resurgence of the solar industry in Nevada, will create jobs and help make solar in Nevada great again."
Governor Sandoval says he will sign the bill that makes solar energy more financially viable for residents and businesses. Assembly Bill 405 will make it profitable again for users to install solar panels and exchange some of their daytime energy for nighttime power from the grid.
Besides Tom, there are others excited about a solar business uptick, because solar customers would again get credits for generating extra electricity. At Reno’s Sunworks Solar Power on east Patriot Boulevard, they're now looking to hire 30 more people this year to handle the business and install these panels. Regional Vice President Casey Coffman told us, "We have a lot of resumes already sitting on the desk and a lot of people are calling in wanting to get back in the industry."
And looking at the big picture, Tesla says it's now going to begin selling solar equipment in Nevada. They say the bill "…will create thousands of jobs and bring millions of dollars in economic benefits to the state…We look forward to bringing even more jobs to the state in the years ahead to help provide residents with affordable rooftop solar."
It's a far cry from 2015, when Nevada's solar industry went under a dark cloud after the state PUC severely reduced the rate that rooftop panel customers were compensated for the extra energy they produced. Nevadans stopped putting panels on their roofs. Tom remembers the layoffs, and empty warehouses. He told us, "Ballpark of 90% of sales were lost. Hundreds of people lost their jobs, a tremendous blow in Nevada."
Casey says his company saw a 99% drop in residential business: "We transitioned over to agricultural and commercial solar and were able to stick around with that, but rooftop solar has really taken a hit."
Other companies closed up shop. Hamilton, Black Rock, Sunrun and Solar City are no longer open in town. Casey says, "All the other companies left the day after the decision was made, so that tells you quite a bit about how much they were hurt.”
Casey's company Sunworks is now the only solar panel game in town, and today the sunny vibe is back. Both he and Tom say Assembly Bill 405 will make it profitable again for solar users to install the panels and exchange some of their daytime energy for nighttime power from the grid. Better yet, prices have come way down...and the panels efficiencies are way up. Casey says, "That means we can use less panels on somebody's roof, and get the same or more electricity output."
And besides hiring 30 more people, he plans to expand beyond his 8,000 square foot space. And for customers, he says with credits restored, the panels will pay for themselves in 7 to 10 years. As he put it, “Solar is absolutely back, better than ever."
If you're interested in making the plunge into solar, Sunworks has a lot of information for local homeowners. Learn more, here.
And if you'd like to learn more about the bill that made this possible, click here.