In Nevada, disputes over net metering controlled much of the energy conversation in 2016. Now, lawmakers and Gov. Brian Sandoval are looking to go big on advanced energy. First, at the end of last year, the Public Utilities Committee of Nevada (PUCN) issued an order requiring a utility to consider “all attributes,” not just cost, in evaluating energy options – a boon for advanced energy technologies, which provide a range of benefits. Now, lawmakers are pressing forward on legislation that would boost the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS), establish annual energy efficiency goals, and consider requiring utilities to deploy energy storage by 2018. If they keep working together like this to enact policies that reduce costs for ratepayers and diversify the state’s energy portfolio, Nevada Republicans and Democrats could catapult the Silver State into the driver’s seat on advanced energy in 2017.
Last November, Nevada voters overwhelmingly supported a ballot initiative that would deregulate the state’s energy market by 2023, allowing independent generators to compete to meet the state’s energy needs. To make this final, Nevadans must go back into the voting booths in 2018. Energy choice is not an entirely new concept in Nevada. The state tried its hand at deregulating twice before, once in the late 1990s and once in the early 2000s, before it eventually folded. The difference now is that energy choice has built up momentum and gained popularity among the state’s largest energy users as they search for cleaner, cheaper energy sources than those provided by the local utilities.
That means energy will be a hot topic in Nevada in 2017. But it won’t be just about energy choice. The General Assembly is dealing up legislation that would give a boost to every segment of the advanced energy industry – from renewables like solar and geothermal, to storage, efficiency, and even which energy resources get dispatched before others.
First up, the state’s RPS. Assembly Bill 206, proposed by Assemblyman Chris Brooks (D-Clark), would ramp up Nevada’s RPS from 25% by 2025 to 50% by 2030 and ultimately reach 80% by 2040. AEE estimates that the passage of AB 206 would present a $29 billion market opportunity for renewable energy development in Nevada by 2040.
Next up, Senate Bill 204, which came out of the Governor’s New Energy Industry Task Force, would have the PUCN study the possibility of requiring utilities to purchase energy storage by October 1, 2018. Storage is a potential game changer for driving Nevada to higher levels of advanced energy.
In addition, several bills are aiming to institute efficiency requirements for utilities and change the way the state measures efficiency program cost-effectiveness. Senate Bill 150, which is being carried by Sen. Pat Spearman (D-Clark), would establish annual energy efficiency goals. This program would also establish performance-based mechanisms to reward utilities for meeting or exceeding the annual metrics. Assembly Bill 223, proposed by Assemblyman William McCurdy II (D-West Last Vegas), transitions Nevada to a Utility Cost Test when assessing the cost-effectiveness of energy efficiency offerings, making more energy-saving options qualify for programs.
And finally, Senate Bill 65, submitted by the Governor’s energy office, would revise the loading order in the state’s integrated resource plan. This loading order determines the priority of resources to be dispatched, and currently prioritizes resources that reduce energy cost and demand. The bill would have PUCN favor electricity resources that protect ratepayers from “the price volatility of fossil fuels and the potential costs of carbon.” That means advanced energy resources will move to the fore in the planning process. The Commission will also be responsible for selecting resources that diversify the state’s electricity mix and provide the greatest economic and environmental benefits to Nevada, such as renewable energy and energy efficiency.
All this would normally be enough to keep a full-time legislature busy. But in Carson City, the legislature meets for just 120 days on odd-numbered years. So buckle up, folks, it’s going to be a wild ride, with lots of potential for advanced energy growth in Nevada.
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