As solar installations multiply, U.S. utility companies fight back

The state-owned Abu Dhabi Water & Electric Authority received a bid to provide solar energy at 2.42 cents per kWh from a new planned facility. Solar prices have fallen about 70% in the last 5 years.

It looks like the tide is turning, though there are still some who are trying to struggle against it.

In Nevada, traditional sources of electricity provision are fighting back using legal recourse.

The MGM Hotels chain will soon generate all of its electricity requirements from solar sources and withdraw from the Nevada power utility, NV Energy.

When the hotel chain discontinues its custom, NV Energy stands to lose 7% of its revenue. It is argued that continued customers of the grid may face increased prices.

After a protracted legal battle, MGM has agreed to pay $87m to make up the shortfall in NV Energy's revenues.

NV Energy also cancelled a net metering plan where customers could install solar panels and earn credit when they sent excess energy back to the grid.

Cancellation of the policy has seen an almost complete drop in purchase of new solar panels.

It's almost as if an independant storage solution might find strong demand in a state with an unpopular monopoly provider...

That said, the lesson to learn is also that legal and political power are sometimes friends and sometimes enemies to renewable energy.

The solar panels were installed by MGM to power 25 per cent of the peak energy used by three of its hotels, and generate so much electricity that MGM Hotels can now source all its power from someone other than the Nevada utility.