By Cameron Dyer
NV Energy’s rollout this summer of plans to develop 1,200 megawatts of additional solar power generation is just the latest reminder that Nevada is leading on clean energy. Nevada leads the nation in clean energy job growth, with more than 8,000 jobs created in 2018 alone. Clean energy now employs more than 32,000 workers across the state.
And thanks to strong, bipartisan leadership by our state legislators, we’re going to continue to make progress. This year, the Legislature passed new laws that will reduce Nevada’s greenhouse gas emissions, improve our air quality, protect our world-class outdoor recreation, boost our economy, and create a healthier future for ourselves and future generations.
As someone who works to advance clean energy solutions, I’m proud of all that was accomplished this year. As a father of two young children, I’m grateful.
The flagship new law – enacted with overwhelming support from advocates, businesses, NV Energy, and the Nevada Resort Association – requires the state’s electric utilities to meet at least 50 percent of their customers’ energy needs with renewable resources by 2030. This will drive even more job growth in our state. At the same time, it will lower utility bills for Nevada families and businesses. It will also cut millions of tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, resulting in healthier communities and a more stable climate.
Cutting emissions from the power sector is essential to protecting our climate. But we also need to address the primary source of greenhouse gas pollution in the state: the transportation sector. We can do that by speeding the transition to electric vehicles.
Nevada’s lawmakers took steps this session to get more electric vehicles on our roads, including an electric school bus pilot program that will help our children have a healthier ride to school, free from diesel emissions. The program will bring the price tag for new, replacement buses in line with new diesel buses by covering up to 75 percent of the cost, at no additional cost to Nevadans.
Other action on electric vehicles includes a new measure encouraging the use of clean, electric semi-trucks by reducing registration fees to account for the weight of the battery. Another law calls for a study of the benefits of electric vehicles and ways to fund transportation infrastructure as more Nevadans switch from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles.
As Nevada focuses on reducing carbon pollution, we need to gather data to help our state make informed decisions. We now have that tool, through a measure that requires the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection to study and report on the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. The agency is also required to identify ways to reduce those emissions to ensure that Nevada does its part to limit global temperature increases to no more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels, in line with the scientific consensus on the steps needed to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
There’s still much to be done to achieve our carbon reduction commitments. We need to support efforts by our utilities to pursue the latest innovations in renewable energy, energy storage, and energy efficiency. Our state would also benefit from joining an expanded regional energy market, which would provide a means to send the lowest-cost renewable energy from across the region to power our homes and businesses. We must also continue to work to clean up Nevada’s transportation sector and speed the adoption of electric vehicles and mass transit. Establishing low-emission and zero-emission vehicle standards, as other states have done, would be a powerful step to reduce pollution from cars and trucks.
We have great momentum; let’s keep it up. Our state lawmakers put our health, our economy, and our future first this year by taking meaningful steps to encourage clean energy development and address climate change. Thanks to their work, the future looks brighter for our state.
Cameron Dyer is a staff attorney with Western Resource Advocates’ Clean Energy Program in Carson City. Previously, he served as an administrative attorney with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada.