Bernie Sanders is campaigning hard against the plutocracy making life hard for the rest of us, and he made his point come home in Nevada. In Reno on Saturday he faced a small group of laid-off solar industry workers and wondered with them why they had lost their jobs in a state with abundant and unobstructed sunlight. The explanation is relatively simple if disturbing. In December the Nevada PUC, composed of three unelected, Republican office holders, hiked fees for rooftop solar installations and slashed rebates for supply power to the grid. The changes made it significantly more expensive for homeowners and businesspersons to install their own panels. This 3-0 decision came about despite a report issued by the PUC showing rooftop solar customers actually contributed more to the grid than they cost. The new solar rates were requested by NV Energy, the state's largest utility. Who owns NV Energy? Warren Buffet the billionare from Omaha. NV complained that solar customers were getting subsidized to such an extent they were harming the corporation's business, and they needed to be placed on an equal footing with other (fossil) fuel sources. So much for an outdated business plan--when you cannot adapt to a changing market, seek a bailout.
The political connections between NV Energy and state government are glaring, if not revealing: Governor Sandoval received maximum campaign contributions from NV Energy during his two campaigns, and two of his closest advisers, Peter Ernaut and Gregory W. Ferraro, are NV's primary state lobbyists. The end result of this manipulation by the Money Power is that Solar City announced in January it would leave Nevada and take with it 550 jobs. Vivint Solar also said it would leave as did Sunrun. All cited the change in rates as the reason they were leaving. Only Sanders met with the unemployed solar workers in Nevada. According to the Reno-Gazette Journal, Clinton was contacted by meeting organizer Great Basin Solar Exchange for an appearance, but received no response from the candidate. Sanders told the workers that moving to solar was a "moral responsibility" and that Nevada should be leading the way. He suggested that a few thousand displaced solar workers should petition Warren Buffet directly. So who feels your pain now, Nevada?