Clean energy advocates applauded legislative leaders’ decision to allow additional time for consideration of three key clean energy bills, exempting them from Friday’s deadline for bills to be voted out of committee. The measures will increase the amount of renewable energy utilities get from clean, in-state resources; restore the state’s rooftop solar industry; and create new community solar projects in Nevada.
Clean energy and energy efficiency already employ more than 20,000 people in Nevada, despite job losses in the rooftop solar industry, and the state has virtually limitless renewable resources. These proposals would let us harness more of that potential.
“The legislature’s decision to give these bills more time for study and negotiation is a testament to their importance,” said Andy Maggi, executive director of the Nevada Conservation League. “Energy policies are complex. And because there are incredible economic development opportunities at stake in this discussion, it’s important we get it right. These two bills, coupled with energy efficiently measures, are an opportunity to stabilize electricity prices for consumers, expand the economic impact of the growing renewable energy industry, and safeguard the state’s environment. We’re glad legislative leaders from both sides of the aisle are taking the time to welcome stakeholders to the table, especially since these proposals have overwhelming support from Nevada voters.”
AB 206, sponsored by Assemblyman Chris Brooks, would update the state’s renewable energy standard, raising the existing standard of 25 percent renewable energy by 2025 to 50 percent by 2030, with a goal of 80 percent by 2040. NV Energy reported Tuesday that it easily met the current benchmarks this year, another reason advocates say it’s time to update that standard, which was enacted 20 years ago. Becoming one of the first states with a renewable portfolio standard, or RPS, made Nevada a clean energy contender over the last two decades, but updating the standard would make the state a national leader.
AB 270, sponsored by Assemblyman Justin Watkins, would restore Nevada’s rooftop solar rates and make investing in this clean-energy alternative more favorable for homeowners. A December 2015 regulatory decision changed the rules on how solar customers are compensated for the energy they generate. This put solar out of reach for Nevada consumers and gutted the state’s once-thriving solar industry. Nevada lost more than 2,500 rooftop solar installation jobs in 2016 following the changes, which increased electric prices for homeowners with rooftop systems.
SB 392, sponsored by Senators Mo Denis and Pat Spearman, would allow renters, home owners, small businesses, nonprofit organizations, or churches to band together and establish community solar gardens on rooftops, over parking lots, and on vacant land. Community solar programs expand access to clean energy for those who rent, have trouble affording clean energy, or don’t have a suitable roof, and include specific provisions that allow low-income families to obtain solar energy.
Bills in the Nevada Senate and Assembly to increase access to energy efficiency measures, particularly in low-income communities, also passed their respective committees with unanimous, bipartisan support on Wednesday, paving the way for consideration by the full chambers. And bills to create innovative funding mechanisms for homeowners and business who want to install renewable energy, as well as reform the way regulators assess and prioritize proposed clean energy projects also passed the Senate Commerce, Labor and Energy Committee yesterday.