Masto, Miller block energy study |

Masto, Miller block energy study

Attorney General Catherine Masto and Secretary of State Ross Miller blocked the plan Friday to conduct an independent study of Nevada’s potential for rooftop solar power generation.

The study, funded by stimulus money, was proposed by the governor’s energy office as an independent look into distributive generating potential and how much solar power the state’s electrical grid can handle.

But Masto objected saying the Public Utilities Commission is already having NV Energy conduct that study and this would just duplicate that study.

Energy director Jim Groth said the study wouldn’t duplicate NV Energy’s work. He said it would instead provide an independent view of the potential.

NV Energy, he pointed out, is primarily beholden to its shareholders, not the citizens of Nevada. He said the utility hasn’t really been interested in doing such a study since 2003. He said it suddenly got interested in April when the energy office obtained federal permission to use $236,000 in ARRA money for a study.

He also made it clear he believes the utility will come in with a lower estimate of how much power the electrical grid can handle from solar panels on schools, public buildings and other rooftops around the state than an independent study.

Power from those rooftop systems feeds into the NV Energy grid, reducing what those schools, businesses and agencies pay the utility for power, in effect, running the electric meter backward on sunny days.

Groth said if unused, the money will go back to the federal government in September.

Masto and Miller said they believe the study would just duplicate NV Energy’s study and waste taxpayer money in the process.

Gov. Jim Gibbons said he supports the energy office study but Masto and Miller refused to approve it.

“Now we’ll have to rely on NV Energy’s numbers,” said Chief of Staff Robin Reedy after the meeting.