Las Vegas Sun

August 25, 2019

Currently: 92° — Complete forecast

Sisolak inks bill that dramatically raises state’s clean energy standard

Sisolak

Ryan Tarinelli / AP

Gov. Steve Sisolak, center, signs legislation in Carson City that requires electricity companies to get half of their energy from renewable sources by 2030, Monday, April 22, 2019.

Nevada is going greener this Earth Day.

Gov. Steve Sisolak has signed legislation into law that will make Nevada one of the most aggressive states in regard to its renewable portfolio standard — by 2030, 50 percent of the electricity generated in the state must be from renewable sources.

“Renewable energy is a major cornerstone of my economic development plan, and this bill will put Nevada back on the path toward renewable energy leadership on a nationwide level and continue to bring well-paying jobs to our communities,” Sisolak said in a statement. “Today, Nevada sent a message to the country and world that the Silver State is open for business as a renewable leader, and our commitment to growing our clean energy economy transcends party lines.”

Renewable energy was a centerpiece of Sisolak’s 2018 campaign for governor in which he touted solar projects undertaken during his tenure as chairman of the Clark County Commission.

Nevada voters in November gave their initial approval to Question 6, which would have amended the state constitution to require 50 percent clean energy by 2030. Constitutional amendments in Nevada require successful outcomes in successive general elections, so the measure would require passage again in 2020. The bill signed Monday places the requirements into state law.

Jaina Moan, director of external affairs at the Nature Conservancy Nevada, said the legislation fits into the organization’s goals of fighting climate change.

“The Nature Conservancy sees climate change as one of the biggest threats to our mission.”

Moan said that by instituting renewable portfolio standards, states are helping fuel the conversation by creating data that shows such programs work. “I do think that people are more accepting than they were 10 to 15 years ago," she said.

She said the next step for her organization is to push for renewable energy sources to be developed on land that has already seen use, such as mining property. Pristine lands don’t need to be developed to reach the new standard, she said.

Many organizations released statements after the bill was signed, applauding Sisolak and lawmakers like Sen. Chris Brooks, D-Las Vegas, who was one of the primary sponsors of the bill.

Rudy Zamora, program director for Chispa Nevada, a Latino conservation advocacy group, touted the money saved and the jobs created from the legislation

“Governor Sisolak has just signed legislation that puts people over polluters. By raising the renewable portfolio standard to 50 percent by 2030, Nevada is seizing an opportunity to put thousands of Nevadans to work, help families save on electricity bills, and reduce the environmental pollution that harms our communities,” Zamora said. “Low-income and Nevadans of color throughout our state will benefit from this increase in clean, affordable energy.”

NV Energy, one of the largest utility providers in the state, came out strongly in support of the bill.

“We announced our support of the renewable standard increase in 2018 and are honored to have worked closely with Governor Sisolak, Senator Chris Brooks, who was instrumental in leading this effort, and other stakeholders to accomplish this so early in the legislative session,” Doug Cannon, president and CEO of NV Energy, said in a statement.

According to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures, Nevada now has one of the most aggressive renewable portfolio standards in the country, matching New York and New Jersey’s policies. California aims to have 100 percent clean energy production by 2045.

Many states divide their standards between investor-owned utilities and others, such as utilities operated by municipalities.