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Solar company lays off hundreds in Nevada

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Posted at 2:59 PM, Jan 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-07 23:22:49-05

Another major rooftop solar installer is laying off hundreds of employees and leaving Nevada as a result of higher energy rates imposed by the state's top energy board.

Sunrun, the nation's largest dedicated residential solar company in the U.S., announced Thursday that it will close up shop and stop installing new rooftop solar panels in Nevada, and lay off hundreds of employees in the state.

Company executives said a recent decision by the state's Public Utilities Commission and actions by NV Energy and Nevada politicians, including Gov. Brian Sandoval, to change rates for rooftop solar customers led the company to leave Nevada.

"Nevada passed incentives to attract residents to go solar," Sunrun executive Bryan Miller said in a statement. "But after baiting homeowners with incentives, the state switched the rules, penalizing solar homeowners to deliver additional profit to NV Energy."

The utilities commission made the decision in December to increase a basic service charge and over time chip away at the credit paid for excess energy generated by rooftop solar panels. NV Energy argued that its other rate payers were being forced to subsidize the nearly 16,000 rooftop solar companies in the state under the previous rate structure.

The announcement comes shortly after another rooftop solar company, SolarCity, announced it would layoff 550 workers as a result of the rate hike earlier this week.

In a statement, Sandoval said it would be "inappropriate" for him to interfere with the independent energy commission, and said he historically has supported the rooftop solar industry in the state.

A spokeswoman was unable to provide a specific number of job losses for Sunrun, and said the company will retain a small staff in the state to provide maintenance for existing customers.

The state's Public Utilities Commission is meeting today to hold a hearing to potentially suspend the rate increase, which took effect on Jan. 1.