Scene In Passing: Watergate, Deflategate; is Solargate next? | NevadaAppeal.com

Scene In Passing: Watergate, Deflategate; is Solargate next?

John Barrette
jbarrette@nevadaappeal.com

Deflategate is a great metaphor through which we can look toward Nevada’s future.

Deflategate may show that winning is the main thing to wannabe winners. Also it means said winners can be losers at times, just like the rest of us. In addition, a tempest in a teapot is nothing compared to a football with insufficient air launched by a strong-armed and overpaid Patriot. Deflategate will show other things, but those possibilities will do here.

So what do Robert Kraft, New England Patriots football team owner, Bill Belichick, his coach, and Tom Brady, their New England quarterback, have to do with Nevada? Not much, unless you consider they’re like Warren Buffett and Elon Musk of big-time business, as well as minions doing those mavens bidding in the financial trenches. Buffett and Musk have much to do with Nevada, at least in a follow-the-money sense.

The similarity is worth exploring. Kraft, you see, is like Berkshire Hathaway’s Buffett and Tesla’s Musk. Kraft is chairman and CEO of The Kraft Group, with holdings in sports and entertainment, paper, packaging, real estate development and a private equity portfolio. His financial tentacles via his diversified holding company are ample.

Belichick, meanwhile, is like Vince Lombardi, legendary Green Bay Packers football coach. Lombardi is famous for winning and for repeatedly voicing a quote originally attributed to UCLA Bruins college coach Henry “Red Sanders: “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.”

I have no idea, because proof is elusive, whether Kraft, Belichick or Brady knew footballs were deflated by Patriots’ equipment personnel to help Brady’s passing. I do know, however, if winning is the only thing for you, someone who works for you is going to do most anything to help achieve that goal.

Put football aside for now. Let’s look at the Buffett and Musk Nevada connections. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy owns NV Energy. Musk, magnate of Tesla Motors and SpaceX fame, also is chairman of the board for SolarCity. Behind the scenes (even at times in plain view) NVE and SolarCity are battling over so-called net metering here, which SolarCity and SunRun solar rooftop installers embrace. NV Energy (NVE) doesn’t.

The reason for the jockeying is complex. Suffice to say if a 3 percent cap on net metering isn’t raised by state government, the rooftop solar industry, SolarCity included, may be outflanked regarding growth here.

NVE, meanwhile, doesn’t cotton to net metering because, some say, it disrupts the established power sector business model. In part that’s because a credit is used as an inducement and net metering/solar rooftop participants can return energy to the grid. The state’s dominant power player is said instead to favor large-scale solar projects and its own rooftop solar business over competitors like SolarCity. Recall Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid views his native Nevada as the Saudi Arabia of solar power. Meantime, whether the chairman of SolarCity and the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway know precise details of this Nevada battle makes little difference; you can bet their minions understand what those men want. Nevada is among their goals in the fight for the future.

The ball is in the air for a Solargate Super Brawl in Nevada.

John Barrette covers Carson City government and business. He can be reached at jbarrette@nevadaappeal.com.