Nevada’s voters, governor and largest utility all supported more renewables. Legislators followed suit.
A bill increasing Nevada’s renewable portfolio standard to 50 percent by 2030 cleared the state assembly on Friday with zero “no” votes, sending it to Governor Steve Sisolak’s desk. The bill unanimously passed the Senate on Tuesday.
The governor’s office did not respond to an immediate request for comment on Friday, but Sisolak is widely expected to sign the legislation, called SB 358. The governor, a Democrat, campaigned on support for a higher renewable portfolio standard. The law also has support of the state’s largest utility, NV Energy.
The law speeds along a target that Nevada voters approved in 2018: Question 6, which would have changed the state’s constitution to include the higher renewable portfolio standard. In Nevada, voters must approve constitutional changes in two separate elections held in two even-numbered election years. That means the amendment was up for vote again in 2020. The passage and likely signing of the 50 percent bill means Nevada can move ahead before it holds its second vote.
Clean energy advocates widely applauded the passage on Friday. Groups including Battle Born Progress, a Nevada-based progressive group, Chispa Nevada, part of the League of Conservation Voters, and the Vote Solar Action Fund spoke in its favor.
“Since 2017, Nevadan voters have been repeatedly calling for a stronger RPS, and today the Legislature delivered,” said Andy Maggi, executive director of the Nevada Conservation League, in a statement. “Senate Bill 358 will bring thousands of jobs, reduce costs for consumers and keep our clean energy momentum going. We look forward to seeing Governor Sisolak sign this bill.”
Nevada joins a flood of states and jurisdictions enshrining in law higher renewable portfolio standards or zero-carbon commitments.
Washington state this week advanced 100 percent carbon-free by 2045 legislation, last week Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló signed legislation calling for 100 percent renewables by 2050, New Mexico recently passed a bill for 100 percent zero-carbon electricity by 2045 and Maryland legislators also passed legislation for 50 percent renewables by 2030.
Those targets will drive new solar and wind additions to the U.S. grid. Analysts at Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables forecast that Nevada’s law will mean an additional 4 gigawatts of renewables, likely to be mostly solar, in the state. The Solar Energy Industries Association currently ranks Nevada fourth in the country for installed solar capacity.
Analyses from the Natural Resources Defense Council and Western Resource Advocates also found that the 50 percent renewable portfolio standard would reduce carbon dioxide emissions 28 percent by 2030 and, compared to future reliance on gas-fired power plants, could offer ratepayer savings exceeding $192 million over the next two decades.