This week, all eyes are on the Silver State as a much-anticipated clean energy bill moves through the legislative process on a short timeline. Taking on electric vehicles, transmission, wholesale electricity markets, energy efficiency, energy storage, integrated resource planning, economic development tariffs, net metering, and more, State Senator Chris Brooks’s SB 448 “New Energy Economy Act” is poised to inject new economic life into Nevada by harnessing the clean energy transition. With the session scheduled to end May 31, time is short to get this landmark legislation over the finish line.
Governor Sisolak and the Nevada legislature have long called for diversification of the state’s economy, which remains highly dependent on tourism and entertainment. With Nevada especially hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, state leaders are anxious to get their constituents back to work in good, high-paying jobs and find new sources of state, county, and local tax revenue. With SB 448, the state can do just that and more. Passing this bill would mobilize the state’s workforce while increasing grid resilience and economic and environmental justice, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, attracting new businesses, and securing an affordable advanced energy future for Nevadans.
Just take a look at everything the bill is proposing to do:
- Direct $100 million toward short-term electric vehicle charging infrastructure development
- Create a long-term electric vehicle infrastructure planning process before the PUC as part of NV Energy’s triennial IRP
- Outline goals for transmission development in the state
- Direct Nevada’s electric utilities to join a Regional Transmission Organization by 2030
- Create a task force to study the costs and benefits of joining a RTO and identify policy changes needed to facilitate this regional cooperation
- Double the amount of energy efficiency program dollars that NV Energy is required to direct toward low-income households, residential customers and schools within historically underserved communities
- Allow energy storage systems to participate in the state’s Renewable Energy Tax Abatement Program
- Ensure that utilities are modeling resource plans that align with the state’s “near or net-zero” 2050 goal
- Re-open the Economic Development Electric Rate Rider through 2024 and modify the discount schedule to attract new commercial and industrial business to Nevada
- Clarify the state’s net metering law as it relates to multi-unit residential or commercial buildings, clarify that a utility is not prohibited from disposing of its generation assets in a merger, and affirm the utility’s obligation to demonstrate reasonableness and prudence in its applications to adjust any schedules, rates, tolls, or charges before the Public Utilities Commission.
While AEE supports the bill in its entirety, we are particularly excited about the significant investment in transportation electrification and the movement toward a regional grid in the west.
Near-term deployment of electric vehicle (EV) chargers complements other state efforts, like Clean Cars Nevada and the Nevada Climate Initiative. Nevada is simultaneously the most urban state in the country and a sprawling rural state, which presents a unique challenge for transportation electrification. For consumers to comfortably switch from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles, they need both ubiquitous charging depots across the Las Vegas and Reno metro areas, and places to plug in on long stretches of desolate highways and at remote outdoor recreation destinations. So this bill creates an Interstate Corridor Charging Depot Program, an Urban Charging Depot Program, and an Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Program.
But it doesn’t stop there – SB 448 also creates the Public Agency Electric Vehicle Charging Program and the Transit, School Bus, and Transportation Electrification Custom Program, to ensure that light-, medium-, and heavy-duty fleets can electrify as well. Fleets are an impactful focal point, as they offer the EV and charging industry opportunity to scale quickly. Notably, at least 40% of these expenditures must be directed towards historically underserved communities, which will help populations who have been unable to reap the many advantages of cleaner and more-cost effective electric vehicles. And finally, setting up a long-term framework for continued EV infrastructure development beyond the initial investment will ensure that Nevada is a place for continued attention from this growth industry, and that EVs lower electricity costs for all ratepayers.
Next, SB 448 directs electric utilities to join a regional transmission organization by 2030 (RTO). AEE has long advocated for a western RTO for its many benefits, including lower energy costs for ratepayers through streamlined transmission planning, optimized development and retirement of generation resources, and competitive market forces that select the least-cost electricity for ratepayers across the region. It also enables greater renewable energy integration, enhances grid resilience, and attracts large energy users, Fortune 500 companies, and data centers looking to power their operations with renewable energy. These businesses have found that the presence of a RTO is foundational for attractive clean energy customer offerings and reliable, low-cost, zero-emission electricity. As a state with abundant renewable resources and a geographically central location, an RTO will help Nevada secure a modern, efficient, and affordable clean energy future. Popular across a broad coalition of trade associations, businesses, and environmental organizations, the RTO provisions are supported by over a dozen organizations (see this coalition letter).
Last, but certainly not least, the bill’s attention to energy storage, low-income energy efficiency program spending, and state policy-aligned resource planning will set up Nevada for significant industry growth and an affordable, intentional, and more equitable clean energy transition.
The advanced energy industry provided Nevadans with nearly 34,000 jobs and strong year over year growth before the pandemic. Modeling conducted by The Analysis Group for AEE demonstrated that investment across a broad spectrum of advanced energy technologies, including electric vehicles, energy efficiency, wind, solar, energy storage, and transmission can provide the state with a six-fold return on investment. Additional benefits include short-term local construction and installation jobs, ongoing maintenance and operations positions, energy bill savings, and new local and state tax revenues.
AEE is urging lawmakers to take action quickly on SB 448 in order to unlock these many benefits. (Read AEE’s testimony to the Senate Growth & Infrastructure Committee here.) The Nevada legislature has two weeks to lock in a thriving advanced energy economy for decades to come. There is no time to waste.
Download AEE’s report on the economic impact of investment in advanced energy technologies in Nevada, as well as other select states, by clicking below.