Solar jab casts Reid as arsonist

A quote from U.S. Sen. Harry Reid has had me grinning the past few days.

Love him or hate him, you have to admire Reid’s sense of timing. Even as he heads for the door, he knows when to pour some gasoline on a fire that’s waning.

Our colleagues at the RJ report that, in a June 2 letter to the director of the Governor’s Office of Energy, Reid wrote “The failure to advance a proposal for bringing rooftop solar back reinforces the belief that Nevada has a stodgy commitment to shielding Nevada’s energy utility from competition.”

Now, that one sentence casts off a lot of sparks. Reid has been open in his disdain for NV Energy’s handling of the solar situation and he’s only a bit more diplomatic in swiping at Gov. Brian Sandoval’s decision to stay above this fray.

The proposal to “grandfather” net metering rates for a few thousand residential solar users seems to have taken some of the outrage out of the pro-solar campaign, but as Reid points out, it does nothing to move solar forward, either as an industry creating jobs or as an environmentally friendly alternative to power from fossil fuels.

The image of a ‘stodgy Nevada’ cuts beyond the immediate battle to the long-term marketability of the state as a hub for new technology, one of Sandoval’s legacy issues.

Some will want to dismiss Reid as an old crank who can’t resist meddling where his opinion isn’t welcome. Reid might not disagree with the characterization, but he won’t go away quietly.

In supporting solar energy, he’s hooked into a subject on which he stands on the popular side. And it isn’t even close. Sandoval, the PUC and NV Energy are looking out of touch.

To be fair, it’s a complex issue and the national wind is blowing against net metering as a solution. That wind just isn’t blowing against solar and that’s the problem for Sandoval et al. They’ve let themselves be cast as anti-solar, a bad place to stand.

So does Reid’s intervention spur Sandoval to take what seems like the inevitable step of coming in as the voice of reason and undoing the PUC’s mess? Or does it make Sandoval hunker down and try to weather the storm?

I think I’ll toast some marshmallows while I watch this fire burn for awhile.

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