SolarCity to cut 550 jobs, uproot Nev. operations

Source: By Chris Martin, Bloomberg • Posted: Sunday, January 10, 2016

SolarCity Corp. released a statement Wednesday that it plans to cut 550 jobs in Nevada and shift operations to more “business-friendly” states after regulators approved higher utility fees for rooftop solar.

That chunk of workforce includes a Las Vegas training facility and nearly all of SolarCity’s Nevada workers, though, company spokeswoman Chandler Sherman said, “We will keep some staff in the state to service existing customers.” This is SolarCity’s first major layoff.

The Nevada Public Utilities Commission on Dec. 22 approved the fee, which would decrease payments to those putting excess energy back onto the grid and increase solar users’ utility charges by 40 percent to $17.90 per customer each month. The increase started Jan. 1, though opponents plan to ask the commission for a stay on the policy, which the NPUC will likely discuss Jan. 13.

Major utilities pushing for the fee increase, including NV Energy, say it will recoup money for grid operations like infrastructure upkeep.

It may mean even more solar companies moving out of the state, though. Greg Butterfield, CEO of Vivint Solar, which is being acquired by SunEdison Inc., said the fee changes will cost jobs, economic output and consumer choice. “Were we and our competitors to proceed with operations in Nevada, customers would lose money,” he said.

SolarCity’s remaining operations include more than 15,000 employees, based out of California.