April 16, 2015

Contact: Gabe Elsner, Energy & Policy Institute,

Clean Energy Think Tank Calls for Public Records Between Governor Sandoval and Utilities on Solar Energy 

The Energy & Policy Institute, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, submitted a public records request today with the Nevada Executive Branch asking for correspondence regarding solar energy between Governor Sandoval and the investor-owned electric utility, NV Energy, the lobbying firm R&R Partners, and the utility industry’s trade association, Edison Electric Institute (EEI).

NV Energy and EEI have both hired R&R Partners, a firm run by Sandoval campaign advisor, Pete Ernaut. R&R Partners received over $500,000 in 2013 from EEI according to the latest available tax records. In addition, R&R Partners lists Arizona Public Service as a client and, on their website, R&R highlights their public relations campaign to “humanize” APS, the utility that is looking to increase its fixed fee for ratepayers that install solar from $5 to $21.

Ernaut, who has been lobbying the utility industry since 2001, boasted that he played a key role in allowing the utility industry to compete in a deregulated environment, which critics said could allow the largest electricity users to avoid rate increases.

“The concern is that Sandoval’s campaign adviser and utility industry lobbyist Pete Ernaut is influencing the Governor regarding solar energy policy in Nevada,” said Gabe Elsner, Executive Director of Energy & Policy Institute. “The public has a a right to know if Gov. Sandoval is meeting with utility staff, consultants, or lobbyists as these special interests attempt to limit the growth of their competitors in the electricity market.”

In addition to having clients in the utility industry and being a campaign advisor for Sandoval, R&R Partners’ Pete Ernaut is close friends with the Governor. The pair became friends in college and were in the state legislature together before Ernaut served as his campaign director for Attorney General and then as an advisor in Sandoval’s gubernatorial campaign.

Finally, Sandoval has served the utility industry when he was the attorney for Utility Shareholders of Nevada, a group that advocated on behalf of utility shareholders. The group was widely viewed as a proxy for management of NV Energy. The Las Vegas Sun reported, “In his new role, Sandoval supported the company’s (NV Energy) bids to raise electricity rates. When the Public Utilities Commission rejected a $110 million rate hike, Sandoval, on behalf of shareholders, joined a lawsuit against the commission, court papers show.”

“Clearly, Sandoval has a history of working closely with NV Energy and special interests at the expense of ratepayers and the public. As Nevada considers the future of solar energy in the state, it is important for the public to know if utility lobbyists are pushing the Governor to side against distributed solar,” stated Elsner.


About: The Energy and Policy Institute is a pro-clean energy think tank working to expose attacks on clean technology and counter misinformation by fossil fuel and utility interests.