CARSON CITY (AP) — Nevada’s governor signed a bill Monday requiring electricity companies to get half of their energy from renewable sources by 2030.
Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak was joined by a crowd of Republican and Democratic state lawmakers during the bill signing.
“This milestone piece of legislation will also help reduce emissions that negatively impact the health and well-being of Nevadans,” Sisolak said.
The clean energy standard under the legislation will be gradually ramped up to the 50 percent mark.
Lawmakers in the Assembly approved the measure on Friday and it passed the state Senate with a unanimous vote.
State Sen. Chris Brooks previously told lawmakers that he introduced the legislation “in the spirit” of a 2018 ballot measure to amend the state Constitution and require the same 2030 clean energy standard as outlined in the bill.
The ballot measure passed and would have to succeed at the polls again in 2020 to amend the Nevada Constitution.
“Fighting for a more sustainable future has been the focus of my career here, and we have to give this effort everything we have,” Brooks told lawmakers at the hearing.
He said the legislation will expand current clean energy standards regulated by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada.
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The bill also outlines when the commission will be able to impose an administrative fine or take other administrative action against an electricity provider that fails to meet the renewable energy standards.
Billionaire activist Tom Steyer, whose group NextGen America supported the ballot measure, said the bill is an important step toward addressing the planet’s climate problems and provides far more jobs than fossil fuel-based energy.
Clean energy “is the cheapest energy in the United States,” he said. “It saves people from a lot of the health problems associated with dirty air.”
In a press release, NV Energy said the company lauds the increase in Nevada’s renewable portfolio standard.
“NV Energy has been vocal about our aspirational goal of providing our customers with 100 percent renewable energy, and this is an important next step in accomplishing that,” said Doug Cannon, NV Energy president and CEO. “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.”
The company’s 2018 announcement that it planned to add six more large-scale solar projects, three of which will include battery storage for the first time, reinforced its commitment to add more low-cost solar to its energy mix. NV Energy also recently submitted its annually-required renewable portfolio standard compliance filing to the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada, which stated that the company had exceeded the current RPS requirement for the ninth-straight year. Instead of the 20 percent required today, 24 percent of the energy the company provides is generated from renewable resources.
According to the NV Energy press release, Nevada is a leader in renewable energy, ranking fourth in solar and second in geothermal. NV Energy has fostered renewable development since before a renewable standard was put into place, having signed its first geothermal contract in 1986. With the expansion of renewable energy and the retirement of coal-fueled generation, Nevada has seen an 85 percent reduction in coal-fueled carbon emissions from 2005 to 2015. During that same period, Nevada reduced carbon emissions from the electric industry by 44 percent.
“Our company has made great strides over the last decade to increase our use of clean energy resources and reduce our carbon footprint, all while keeping costs low for our customers,” Cannon said. “Today signifies another step in building Nevada’s a clean energy economy and we’re proud to be one of the leaders in that effort.”
The Nevada Conservation League said in a press release that the bill signed Monday “culminates a years-long fight to raise Nevada’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. In 2017, then-Governor Sandoval vetoed similar legislation, despite bipartisan support from the Nevada Legislature to increase the standard. Vowing to undo the governor’s veto, in 2018 conservation and clean energy advocates banded together to put ‘50% by 2030’ on the ballot. Nevada voters passed Question 6 with 59% support.”