NV Energy Places Miraclebets On Solar



By Buck Williams, TPT Energy Correspondent

Back in Brooklyn, the local bookies knew my father on sight. They also knew he was a drunk who was always flush with cash on Friday nights. They practically walked him to the bars and, after a long night of fleecing him, to my sainted mother without a penny to his name.

To better his odds (or so he thought), he would place miraclebets. Let me explain miraclebets: Let’s say you wanted to put money on the first Ali-Frasier fight, but you couldn’t decide which fighter to bet on.

You find two different bookies who have different winners chosen. You bet money with each of them — with one on Ali, and with the other on Frasier (a miraclebet). That way,  you get paid no matter who wins the fight. It usually doesn’t work that way, of course — a lesson my father never learned, even after he was dead broke.

I thought of my father when I read about NV Energy’s miraclebet strategy on solar energy.

Publicly, NV Energy supports solar. They’ll say that over and over. But what they really mean is they only like the solar on which they can earn a handsome profit, not the solar that provides the people of Nevada with savings and choice. This is rooftop solar, which they don’t own or build, and thus, can’t earn a guaranteed 10% rate of return.  In other words, only NVE should be able to profit (on the backs of ratepayers).  Speaking of unjust profits, keep in mind that when NVE was being acquired by out-of-state MidAmerican, it asked for a $2 billion acquisition premium.  Thankfully, the PUC said, no thank you, respectfully, to the Iowans.

NVE also asked the PUC to study rooftop solar’s (or net metering’s) value to the ratepayers as a whole a couple of years ago. Sure enough they got their study but not their desired results which showed that solar benefits all ratepayers by lowering electricity prices.

(As an aside, this is a point Mississippi and Missouri have already made in other independent studies. I’d like to be the shark getting paid to do this same study over and over — what a racket for the obvious.)

Now, of course, they are trying to rewrite history by denying the results — a Jedi mind trick of sorts (“These are not the results you are looking for.”). This behemoth state-sponsored monopoly, comfortably pocketing its guaranteed profits, is having its lobbyists running around the legislature painting apocalyptic pictures to pro-solar legislators about how their re-election campaigns will go if they oppose NV Energy.

My Carson City sources say that privately, NV Energy is doing what all these other government-sponsored monopolist utilities are doing — they are lying behind the scenes and thinking they’re getting away with it. I guess that is what you have to do if you sell a product folks don’t like.  You’ll do anything you need to do to preserve your bloated executive staff and their fat salaries (which, I’ll point out again, are the result of gashing ratepayers and governmental subsidies).  In fact, deep into the last recession in 2011, NVE asked to increase executive salaries by $3 million!  And they say they have their customers best interest in mind.

You know what else is idiotic about this picture? According to The Solar Foundation’s 2014 Solar Jobs Report, Nevada’s solar industry employed 5,900 Nevadans in 2014 and added 3,500 solar jobs over 2013. Nevada’s 146% solar industry employment growth allowed it to rise back to No. 7 in rankings of highest number of solar jobs by state — and No. 1 in solar jobs per capita. Solar employment in Nevada grew more than 53 times faster than the state’s average employment growth rate of 2.7% in the same period.

So not only is NV Energy trying to kill Nevadans’ freedom to choose (for the first time) cleaner energy for less they’re also going to kill one of the state’s fastest growing sectors in the state to benefit the whims of a boardroom in Omaha.

Placing miraclebets is a horribly addictive practice because the gambler always thinks he will win no matter what. It leads to increasingly risky behavior (like selling your wife’s wedding ring or selling the family car at a loss……but I digress). And when the problem gambler controls an entire state’s electricity supply, that’s dangerous.

Nevadans can’t allow NV Energy to gamble away their right to electricity choice. Let’s stop them before it starts.