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If the solar industry is moving too fast for state law to keep up, can a Las Vegas business attorney really help?

July 18, 2015

One rooftop solar company in Nevada hopes to light a (figurative) fire under the state government in order to expedite a records request. But will strong arm tactics from a Las Vegas business attorney will work in Gov. Brian Sandoval’s office? This article in the Las Vegas Sun indicates that Sunrun is hopeful that it will.

We’re all familiar enough with the how slow and inefficient government organizations can seem, though sometimes we’re not sure whether its sloth originates from a sense of entitlement, a tangle of red tape and bureaucratic mazes, limited resources, or perhaps some combination of all three. But Sunrun’s recent experience of being put off by Sandoval’s administration “saying it would be difficult for the state to provide an accurate time estimate for disclosing the public documents” that should be a matter of public record and accessible to everyone was exasperating enough for the solar company to up and hire a Las Vegas business attorney to get things done faster.

Because the problem that Sunrun and their Las Vegas business attorney see isn’t just tardiness, and they’re claiming they’re not simply impatient. The problem they identify has to do with the “battle between the burgeoning rooftop solar industry and NV Energy,” with the state cozying up to the public utility. Accusing Sandoval’s office of “cronyism” with NV Energy and subsequent “stonewalling” after their records request, Sunrun is hoping that a little lawsuit might go a long way in disrupting the established energy industry practices and make way for innovation in business, technology, and environmentally friendly production of power.

It would seem that Sunrun and their Las Vegas business attorney might have some validity to their claims, when you look at the governor’s current energy advisers and discover that two of them are NV Energy lobbyists, and if you can remember when Sandoval “was legal counsel for the Utility Shareholders of Nevada—an advocacy group that represents the interests of stockholders for companies like NV energy” back in the 1990s.

Sandoval certainly seems to have at least a foot in the door with Nevada public energy, if not more in more intimate realms of the dealings, so it’s possible that the lawsuit filed by Sunrun may expedite the records request as the governor’s office hopes to avoid other revelations that could raise further questions and make the current alliances appear less than savory. Like the way for “a decade, the state has limited participation in a program that allows homeowners to receive a credit on their power bills for providing electricity to the grid with solar panels.”

And let’s be honest: it does look fishy when the governor’s office takes until 2015 to broker “a deal that mandated the Public Utilities Commission to outline a plan” to incentivize clean energy, especially in a desert state where natural resources are so precious (and sunshine and solar power so abundant). So where Sandoval’s office goes with this potential lawsuit from Sunrun will be telling indeed.

 

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