Las Vegas Sun

August 20, 2019

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Nevada PUC joins 13-year-old regional pact on climate change

Solar Energy

Susan Montoya Bryan / AP

This April 20, 2011, file photo shows some of the 30,000 solar panels that make up the Public Service Company of New Mexico’s new 2-megawatt photovoltaic array in Albuquerque, N.M.

The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada has signed on to a regional effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to address climate change, the commission announced today.

Nevada will be the fourth western state to join the Western Public Utility Commissions’ Joint Action Framework on Climate Change, first established in 2006 among Oregon, Washington, California and New Mexico; New Mexico is no longer part of the coalition.

The joint action framework affirms participating utility commissions’ shared commitments to reducing emissions, expanding clean energy, keeping energy rates low, improving energy system reliability and sharing best practices for renewable and low-carbon energy technologies.

The framework also includes steps that states will take to meet those goals, including researching the pros and cons of regional transmission markets as they impact ratepayers and resource efficiency, exploring the development and use of low-carbon energy power and sharing analyses and ideas with one another.

“The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada is excited to join the other Western Commissions in a cooperative effort to promote deployment of cost-effective, reliable and clean energy resources and infrastructure, while recognizing the unique approach of each state to addressing these difficult challenges,” PUCN Chairwoman Ann Pongracz said in a statement.

The news of Nevada joining the coalition comes on the heels of and in response to other measures announced or approved this year in Nevada to address climate change. During the 2019 legislative session, the Nevada Legislature approved bills to increase the state’s renewable portfolio standard to 50% by 2020 and to allocate $1.5 million in NV Energy funding to purchase electric school buses, among other climate initiatives. Joining the coalition will help the PUCN accomplish its new RPS goals, said Peter Kostes, public information officer for the commission.

In March, Gov. Steve Sisolak joined the U.S. Climate Alliance, a group of 25 states that have committed to upholding the emissions goals set by the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. The commission was “following the lead” of Sisolak and the Legislature in voting unanimously to participate in the joint action framework at its July 31 meeting, according to a release from the PUCN.

Conservation groups Western Resource Advocates and the Nevada Conservation League lauded the PUCN for taking part in the joint action framework. "Nevada continues to demonstrate its clean energy leadership through joining this framework, which will allow our state to collaborate with our neighbors to address climate change,” Nevada Conservation League Executive Director Andy Maggi said in a statement.