Distributed Energy Resources

Nevada lawmakers review 100 percent clean energy bill

A bill was recently introduced in Nevada that would increase the state’s renewable portfolio standard to 50 percent by 2030 and set a goal of getting all electricity from resources that emit zero carbon dioxide emissions by mid-century.

With the introduction of the bill (SB 358), Nevada joins a growing list of states that have set 100 percent carbon-free electricity goals or are considering them.

Nevada's current RPS, which only applies to investor-owned utility NV Energy, grows to 25 percent until 2025. NV Energy got 23.8 percent of its electricity from renewable resources in 2017, according to the Las Vegas-based company’s most recent RPS compliance report.

Separate from the RPS, NV Energy aims to roughly double its renewable energy portfolio, partly through 1,001 megawatts of solar contracts approved by state regulators in December that range in price from $21.55 per megawatt-hour to $29.96/MWh.

The utility supports bumping up the RPS to 50 percent and has a goal of getting all its electricity from renewable resources as long as it doesn’t drive up rates, according to Jennifer Schuricht, a company spokeswoman.

As a state, Nevada ranks second in the nation for geothermal and fourth for solar power, Schuricht noted.

NV Energy's two utilities owned 6,011 megawatts and had long-term power supply contracts totaling 3,405 MW, including 2,954 MW of renewables as of Dec. 31, according to Berkshire Hathaway Energy Co., the utility's parent.

In November, voters in Nevada approved Question 6, a state constitutional amendment that requires NV Energy to get half of its electricity from renewables by 2030. Voters will need to approve it again next year for the constitutional change to take effect. The amendment will be moot if SB 358 becomes law.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, supports increasing the RPS to 50 percent and earlier this month added his state to the U.S. Climate Alliance, a group of 23 states that pledge to meet the greenhouse gas reduction goals of the Paris Accord.

Among other things, SB 358 would make it easier for NV Energy to buy renewable energy facilities. The utility could also buy or build renewable facilities and not include them in its ratebase while selling elecrricity from them at a competitive market price.

NV Energy participates in the Western energy imbalance market, which has helped reduce costs for integrating renewable generation onto the grid.

The pending legislation is part of a nation-wide trend of states looking to sharply increase their renewable portfolios.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, for example, is expected to sign a bill that passed the state’s Legislature earlier this month that requires the state's investor-owned utilities to have zero carbon emissions by 2045.

California, Hawaii and the District of Columbia have set 100 percent clean energy standards while bills to adopt a similar standard are pending or expected in Washington, Colorado, Minnesota, Illinois, Florida, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Maine, Michigan and Massachusetts, according to EQ Research, a research firm. Lawmakers in Iowa, Montana and Texas are studying the issue, the research firm said.

Also, Oregon, Nevada and Arizona are considering major expansions in their existing RPS requirements, but not to the 100 percent level.