Elon Musk’s SolarCity stated Wednesday it will immediately cease operations in Nevada after a state commission voted unanimously to repeal taxpayer support for the rooftop solar industry.
“If the Nevada Public Utilities Commission’s [PUC] proposed decision is accepted tomorrow it will destroy the rooftop solar industry in one of the states with the most sunshine. There is so much wrong with the decision, [sic] the only option for the PUC is to reject it,” Lyndon Rive, the CEO of SolarCity, writes in a Monday statement. “If the PUC approves this proposal, it will force SolarCity to cease sales and installation operations in Nevada.”
Elon Musk received $1.4 billion in taxpayer support from Nevada to build a “gigafactory” for Tesla Motors. Musk serves as CEO, chairman and founder of Tesla. SolarCity also received a large cash “incentive” to move to Nevada. Elon Musk helped found SolarCity and still serves as its chairman. The company is one of the largest rooftop solar installers in the United States.
The commission’s decision will gradually reduce subsidies and financial benefits for rooftop solar over the next four years. The changes will take effect Jan. 1 and will apply retroactively to all customers.
SolarCity has a long history of threatening to pull out of states which reduce support for rooftop solar industries. The company complained about such changes in New Mexico, New Hampshire and New York. The company actually followed through on these threats when the United Kingdom reduced taxpayer support for solar.
Most solar subsidies in the United States go to support a 30 percent federal tax credit for residential solar. Solar-leasing companies like SolarCity install rooftop systems, which cost a minimum of $10,000, at no upfront cost to the consumer. Companies do this because the state and federal subsidies are so massive that such behavior is actually profitable. A study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology concluded rooftop solar subsides are inefficient and costly and that rooftop solar companies simply cannot compete without government support.
Solar power receives 326 times more subsidies than conventional energy sources relative to the amount of energy produced, according to Department of Energy data. “Green” energy in the U.S. received $13 billion in subsidies during 2013, compared to $3.4 billion in subsidies for conventional sources and $1.7 billion for nuclear, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. The federal government gave the solar industry another five-year tax credit extension last week.
Despite these huge subsidies, in 2014 solar power accounted for only 0.4 percent of electricity generated in the United States, according to the Energy Information Administration.
A spokesperson for SolarCity declined to comment and referred The Daily Caller News Foundation to a press release which has not yet been published.
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