Nevada legislators introduced a bill on Monday that would double the state's renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 50% by 2030, and require 100% carbon-free emissions by 2050.
SB 358 would ensure all electricity providers are treated the same under the RPS, including electric cooperatives and private energy providers, and clarify that renewables include existing hydropower. NV Energy, the state's largest utility, told Utility Dive it supports the bill as it aims to add over 1 GW of renewables to its power supply, which will double the state's renewable energy output by 2023.
- During last year's midterm elections, Nevada voters gave preliminary approval to a ballot initiative with the same goals as SB 358, but under state law the measure would have to be approved by voters again in 2020.
Nevada's Question 6 was one of four clean energy initiatives on state ballots during the midterm elections, and the only one to pass.
Talk of increasing the RPS legislatively instead of through a second ballot initiative began after the midterm elections, in which Nevada elected a Democratic governor and a majority blue state Assembly and Senate.
The provision to ensure all energy suppliers adhere to the same mandate is part of an effort to "deliver on what voters passed in the 2018 election," particularly as a growing number of large businesses in the state leave NV Energy, according to Dylan Sullivan, senior scientist for the Natural Resources Defense Council's (NRDC) Climate and Clean Energy Program.
The state's solar potential is "unrivaled" and a number of previous clean energy initiatives have cleared the state's path to a smooth clean energy transition, Sullivan told Utility Dive.
Legislation to incentivize solar-plus-storage deployment and boost energy efficiency in the state was passed in May of 2017 and a number of other clean energy initiatives were approved that year under former Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, Noah Long, director of NRDC's Climate & Clean Energy program for the interior West and Northwest told Utility Dive earlier this year.
Almost a fourth of Nevada's electricity is generated from renewable energy, including hydroelectric power. But the majority of its electricity, about 70%, comes from natural gas. The last of its coal-fired power plants is scheduled to retire in 2025.
The state also had the fastest growing job market for clean energy in the country last year, according to Sullivan, and the 50% RPS would add an estimated 11,000 additional jobs.
State Senator Chris Brooks, D, who introduced SB 358, has another bill in the legislature that would direct state agencies to monitor and direct corrective solutions toward reducing carbon emissions in the state.
Earlier this month, Gov. Steve Sisolak, D, made Nevada the 23rd state to join the U.S. Climate Alliance, committing to reduce carbon emissions at least 26% below 2005 levels by 2025. His move and the RPS bill illustrate growing state-level action on clean energy across the country.
Nevada's regional neighbors, New Mexico and California, both have legislation in place to bring their states to 100% carbon-free energy by 2045 and a number of other states have bills pending to modify their RPS including Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington. Washington, D.C., in December, passed the most aggressive renewable energy bill in the country, mandating 100% renewables by 2032.