Actor testifies before panel on rooftop solar rate hike


More than 1,000 people took a stand Wednesday as the tried to urge the Public Utilities Commission to reverse its decision on a rate increase for rooftop solar power customers.

People packed into the meeting and brought along some Hollywood star power.

Mark Ruffalo who may be best known for his role as the Hulk on the Avengers also happens to be a clean energy activist.

He testified before the commission in support of the solar energy customers and hundreds of laid off solar installers who wanted to send a message to the PUC.

“This is an energy revolution and it’s happening all over the country,” Ruffalo shouted into a megaphone as he stood with supporters outside the meeting.

They wanted the PUC to reverse its decision to increase costs for residential solar panel users. The rate hike that went into effect on Jan. 1 angered thousands of customers who’d invested in solar, and prompted layoffs in what was a growing industry.  However, on Wednesday evening, the Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously against the request. 

During the protest, accusations concerning PUC and NV energy were thrown out.

Anchor/Reporter Paul Joncich: “Is your group suggesting PUC members are in the pocket of NV Energy?”

Bryan Miller, Alliance for Solar Choice: “It has been very clear what has gone on. The governor’s two top energy advisors are NV Energy lobbyists. That’s a fact that has never been denied”

In the hearing, Ruffalo addressed PUC commisioners. There was only one who was actually in the room, the other two appeared via video from Carson City.

“It’s a shame that you are on that screen and not in the building because outside you should really feel the energy here, there’s a thousand people out here,” Ruffalo said. “You have a lot of angry people out there because they see what’s happening. They know it’s a game, it’s a rigged game and you’re not working for the public, you’re working for the utility.”        

Proponents of the rate hike say it corrects a cost-shift that has traditional energy customers subsidizing about 17,000 customers.

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