Nevada’s 2017 legislative session was jam-packed with bills that will reshape the state’s energy future. The legislature passed 11 energy bills and sent them to Gov. Brian Sandoval’s desk. Of the 11, the Governor signed nine into law. The bills covered a wide range of issues and settled them in favor of advanced energy: prioritizing energy-saving resources for dispatch, setting annual energy savings goals, studying energy storage deployment, and even solving the state’s contentious net-metering policy. After this session, one thing is apparent – in Nevada, advanced energy is not a partisan issue. With a Republican Governor and a Democratic legislature, Nevada is moving toward advanced energy in the name of economic development and consumer benefit. But one bill that went unsigned – and was, indeed, vetoed – by the Governor kept the Silver State off the Gold Medal stand for advanced energy leadership.
The bill that got vetoed, Assembly Bill 206, would have increased the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) for the first time since 2009, raising it from 25% by 2025 to 40% by 2040. It would have also allowed storage to count toward RPS compliance while also pushing Nevada to reap the full benefits of expiring federal incentives. In his veto message, Gov. Sandoval stated that the goal was too much too fast and feared rate increases on consumers. The Governor said he preferred to tackle the issue of an RPS increase in his Committee on Energy Choice, in hopes of addressing the issue during the 2019 legislative session. He also vetoed Senate Bill 392, a community solar bill, on similar grounds. Although these vetoes are deeply disappointing, as the bills would have completed a package of nation-leading measures this legislative session, we look forward to working with the Sandoval administration on RPS and community solar to continue Nevada’s leadership.
What was accomplished in Nevada this year is not to be diminished, however. Gov. Sandoval signed into law measures that will help Nevada regain its stature as a hub of the advanced energy industry.
At the close of 2015, solar companies began ditching the Nevada market following a controversial cut to net-metering rates by the Public Utilities Committee of Nevada (PUCN) at the instruction of the legislature. This year, that all changed. The Nevada Assembly adopted AB 405, which creates a tiered system to reimburse net metering customers at nearly full retail rate. These tiers will kick off at 95% of retail and decrease for every 80 MW of additional rooftop solar capacity added onto the grid. This new law has the rooftop solar industry eager to get back to work in Nevada, with Tesla, Sunrun, and others stating they will restart in-state operations.
Senate Bill 204, which came out of the Governor’s 2016 New Energy Industry Task Force, will require the PUCN to study energy storage deployment by October 1, 2018, with findings that could open up a new market for storage applications, from grid services to renewable energy integration.
Senate Bill 65 revises the loading order in the state’s integrated resource plan, requiring utilities to prioritize resources that reduce energy costs, such as renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Senate Bill 150 establishes that the state is responsible for encouraging utilities to take actions to develop a wide range of standards, goals, and programs that save energy, which will lead to greater investments in energy efficiency.
Advanced energy had a huge year in Nevada, a state that has had its ups and downs in when it comes to advanced energy. Thanks to the collaborative spirit of the Governor and General Assembly this year, Nevada is still on the upswing. We expect to see big issues like energy choice, the future of the RPS, and energy storage under further consideration when the legislature returns to session in 2019. AEE, with its state partner Clean Energy Project, will be there.
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