Nevada’s solar future just got a little sunnier.
SolarCity, a San Mateo, Calif.-based solar company, opened its doors for business Wednesday at Town Square, near Interstate 15 and the Las Vegas Beltway.
SolarCity offers business and residential customers a full range of solar-panel services, from design and financing to installation and maintenance.
In March, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development granted SolarCity $1.2 million from its $10 million Catalyst Fund, which helps job-creating companies expand or relocate to Nevada.
The company has hired about 130 employees locally and is now hiring for the Las Vegas office at the rate of one new worker per day, with plans to double its workforce each year.
While its headquarters will remain in California, SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive says he wants to make Las Vegas an important hub for the company, which has locations in 14 other states and Washington, D.C.
Rive said he wants to make the Las Vegas branch one of the biggest, if not the biggest, SolarCity locations.
Rive said the move would not have been possible without recent legislation Senate Bill 123, which calls for the Reid Gardner coal power plant to close and requires 350 megawatts to be created from renewable energy, and Assembly Bill 428, which calls for renewable energy laws to be revised.
Currently in Nevada, SolarCity can work only with new home builders to install solar panels. Its main partner is Shea Homes.
“I’m looking forward to the next phase, when we can actually install solar locally in the state,” Rive said. “With the implementation of those two bills, we can get rooftop solar and make Nevada one of the top solar states in the country.”
Several Nevada politicians were present for the opening ceremony, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Gov. Brian Sandoval and U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev.
Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, Assemblyman David Bobzien and State Sens. Ruben Kihuen, Kelvin Atkinson and Michael Roberson along with County Commissioner Steve Sisolak also were present.
One hundred or so SolarCity employees, many of whom moved from California to join the new operation, also were there, donning kelly green company polo shirts.
The Las Vegas location will serve as the company’s main call center and will handle sales, customer care and billing.
Las Vegan Spence Corcoran said he joined SolarCity’s employment ranks because he believes in the cause.
“It’s a fast-growing operation with a lot of good energy behind it,” he said.
Customer account manager Chandler Gray, who has 15 years of experience in retail, said he joined the company “to be a part of the future and leave a legacy for (his) son.”
Officials from the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development have said the average hourly wage for SolarCity employees will be $21 an hour.
Reid said SolarCity is a big win for the state, which he said is leading the nation in geothermal power and has solar and wind capabilities.
“There’s not a state in the union that is more capable of being energy independent than the state of Nevada,” Reid said.
SolarCity’s chairman is entrepreneur Elon Musk, who also founded PayPal, Space X space-launch vehicles and Tesla Motors electric cars.
On Tuesday, Musk revealed details for Hyperloop, a high-speed solar-powered “elevated transit” system that would move passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco in aluminum tubes in less than 30 minutes, faster than a commercial airplane.
Contact Review-Journal writer Kristy Totten at KTotten@Reviewjournal.com.