Where do Nevada’s clean energy policies stand?

RenewNV and clean energy advocates worked for a comprehensive package of clean energy and energy efficiency bills in the 2017 session of the Nevada Legislature. This impressive suite of legislation helped reestablish Nevada’s reputation as a center for the development, generation and use of renewable technology – a reputation earned in 1997 when the state adopted one of the first renewable energy standards in the United States. In fact, the success of the legislative initiatives – all 11 bills supported by RenewNV passed and nine were signed into law – has made Nevada a model for advocates in other states looking to advance their clean
energy economies.

But we have to keep up the momentum.

In November 2016, voters approved the Energy Choice Initiative by a 3 to 1 margin as a way to foster renewable energy development. Advocates will work with the Governor’s Committee on Energy Choice to ensure than an open energy market promotes a quicker transition to clean power. Additionally, clean energy advocates will go to the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada to ensure laws passed in 2017 are implemented in a way that encourages more renewables and energy efficiency.

And finally, we will continue to fight for two important proposals that were vetoed by the Governor – increasing the percentage of renewable energy we use in Nevada to 40 percent by 2030, and allowing neighborhoods to access the benefits of renewable energy through community “solar gardens.”

How does the Energy Choice Initiative affect clean energy?

Many large consumers of energy, including major employers like casinos and data centers, want access to open markets to obtain the clean renewable energy they want and need. Households and small businesses might also have the ability to join all-renewable power
providers and participate in the clean energy economy.

Changing the energy market is a complex process and will take years. There are now two committees – Governor’s Committee on Energy Choice and the Legislative Interim Energy Committee – working to draft guidelines for this free market, which voters will likely approve in 2018. Both committees will make recommendations to the Legislature, which ultimately decides what a new open market will look like. Clean energy advocates are working with these committees to ensure renewable energy remains front-and- center as a priority, just as it is for Nevada voters.

Clean energy advocates are working with local, state, and national leaders and regional partners to complete Nevada’s transition from dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable power. Nevada is already experiencing the very real benefits of developing clean energy to our economy and our environment today. There’s no reason to wait.

Will more clean energy mean higher power bills?

The short answer: No.

There are many variables affecting energy prices, but the source is one of the most important. Prices for solar energy systems have dropped by more than half since 2010, and continue to fall. Once constructed, solar, wind, and geothermal systems provide power at virtually no cost, because they use free fuel from the Earth. Currently, Nevada pays more than $600 million annually to import the fossil fuels that run many of its power plants.

The Natural Resources Defense Council in March 2017 analyzed the costs and benefits of raising Nevada’s clean energy standard from 25 percent by 2025 to 50 percent by 2030. The analysis showed that, coupled with modest energy efficiency measures, power costs would go up by about 2 percent – or the price of a latte per month for the average homeowner. However, if solar prices continue to fall, or if volatile fossil fuel prices go up, consumers would actually save money on their power bills.

Independent studies have also demonstrated that distributed generation like rooftop solar – which is spread across rooftops throughout the state – can strengthen the electrical grid and actually save all consumers money. And that doesn’t include the benefits of cleaner air and healthier communities that come with more renewable energy!