Elon Musk vs. Warren Buffett

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Elon Musk and Warren Buffett have had a power struggle over the future of energy in Nevada starting as early as 2015. [1]

A Family Feud

The billionaire power struggle centers around rooftop solar panels and net metering, beginning with the Rive brothers and their cousin Elon Musk establishing SolarCity operations in Nevada. [1]

[Nevada] sold themselves as being solar-friendly [...] it was, ‘ Hey, we are for solar. We want to make solar work .’ - CEO of SolarCity, Lyndon Rive [1 ] [6]

For a 20-year commitment, SolarCity financed panels with a $0 down payment. After starting in California and expanding to Arizona and Oregon, SolarCity began selling in Nevada in 2014 and quickly became the state’s leading installer of rooftop panels. [1] Warren Buffett got very angry when he saw Musk excelling in Nevada with rooftop solar energy. A few months after Musk's Tesla and SolarCity moved in to Nevada, Warren Buffett acquired NV Energy. [1]

Buffett then lobbied against solar energy used on rooftops, with NV Energy owning a monopoly over the power grid. This took form in a net metering legislation. Essentially, Nevadans who had installed solar panels on their roofs were suddenly banned from selling more than ~5% of peak energy usage. Solar panels often create excess energy when the sunlight is most direct. This energy has to either be sold to the electrical grid for other energy consumers or stored in a home battery. A major reason why Tesla created the Powerwall was to meet the demand for energy storage in the wake of net metering regulations. [✔]

Wikipedia Manipulation

Brian Sandoval, then mayor of Nevada, handed out printed Wikipedia articles of himself. His wiki claimed that Sandoval would be able to retain solar-jobs in Nevada by removing or lifting the net metering cap. Brian Sandoval accused SolarCity of editing the wiki, although they denied doing so. Actors like Mark Ruffalo have been very vocal in support of SolarCity. [4] [12]

On 6 January 2016, SolarCity made a blog headlined "Following Nevada PUC's Decision to punish rooftop solar customers, SolarCity was' forced to eliminate more than "550 Jobs in Nevada" [5] This massive layoff upset many consumers, voters, and shareholders, believing it to be a case of corprotism. Two of NV Energy's lobbyists—Pete Ernaut and Greg Ferraro—have been friends with Sandoval for decades. Both ended up serving as advisers to his successful campaign and have continued to lobby him in office. [1]


Elon Musk was declared the victor following a settlement that would grandfather the solar customers to more favorable rates for 20 years. [14]

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