Nevada Move to Increase Renewable Energy Portfolio Supported by Cortez Masto, Titus

By Maggie O’Neill

Reliance on renewable energy in the Silver State moves upward following the governor’s stamp of approval on a unanimously-passed bill in the Nevada Legislature this year.

The bill, S.B. 358, commits the state to increasing its renewable energy portfolio to 50 percent by 2030. This is an increase over the standard first set in 1997 in the state; even then Nevada was considered a leader in the industry because at that point it was the second state in the nation to set a standard. 

“Nevada is a leader in renewable energy; we’ve set the national standard when it comes to producing solar and geothermal energy,” says Nevada U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, who serves on the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “I’m bringing what’s been successful in Nevada to Washington and working to implement it on a national scale.”

She is speaking of one piece of legislation that she introduced to promote the growth of renewables. Known as the Geothermal Energy Opportunities Act, this act establishes national geothermal energy usage goals, reduces barriers to increase geothermal development, and promotes the deployment of geothermal technology. 

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Nevada ranked second in the nation for generating electricity from geothermal energy and fourth in utility-scale generation from solar energy in 2017. S.B. 358 may just help to push this generation even further.

The bill should also have the added benefit of reducing carbon emissions and smog pollution. Of note, the state’s carbon dioxide emissions (in 2016) were 36.9 million metric tons. This puts the state 39th in the nation for high levels while Texas takes the top spot at 657.5 million metric tons. 

Nevada’s S.B. 358 should also lead to the availability of new jobs due to the increased need to have 50 percent of the state’s energy coming from renewable sources.

“Investing in renewable energy is good for our environment and our economy,” says Cortez Masto. “I support renewables as a commonsense solution to the existential threat of climate change as well as an opportunity to bring good-paying jobs for Nevadans, and I’ll continue fighting to make sure our federal government follows the Silver State’s lead in making these a priority.”

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak’s Office reports that there were 32,000 clean energy jobs in the state by the end of 2018. S.B. 358 could potentially result in 11,170 more full-time jobs being created by 2030 along with an additional $1.5 billion in economic activity and $539 million in wages being generated.

As far as solar energy, Nevada ranks 10th in the country for its availability of solar jobs, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). In fact, solar energy provided 6,680 jobs in 2018, reports SEIA. The solar companies in the Silver State include 15 manufacturers and 75 installers as well as 51 other types of solar-related business.

Other moves toward Renewable Sources

This year, Nevada also joined the U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of governors committed to reducing emissions from greenhouse gases  -- and that aligns with the Paris Climate Accord. The Paris Accord, formally adopted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at the end of 2015, has garnered nearly 200 member signatures.

U.S. Nevada Congresswoman Dina Titus feels strongly about the Paris Climate Accord and says the U.S. needs to continue its transition toward the use of renewable energy. 

“I’ll continue to help our state and nation transition to renewable energy sources because we must,” she says. “There is no Planet B. Unfortunately, this Administration denies the settled science and refuses to act on climate change. I voted to keep the U.S. in the Paris Climate Accord when President Trump made the reckless decision to withdraw.”

The Paris Climate Accord strengths the worldwide response to climate change, both in helping to combat the effects of climate change and to adapt to them as well as to keep the temperature increase this century to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

“Meanwhile, I’m working to pass the Climate Action Now Act to make sure our country has a comprehensive plan to reduce our use of fossil fuels and move towards clean energy,” Titus says. “That’s what’s best for our air, our economy, and our grandchildren.”

Cortez Masto explains she’s taking additional steps to support use of renewable energy nationwide -- not just in Nevada.

“In the Senate, I’m leading the bicameral bipartisan Renewable Energy Extension Act to extend green energy tax incentives for solar and other renewable energy technologies set to begin expiring at the end of this year,” she says. “And I’ve cosponsored Senator Wyden’s Clean Energy for America Act, which streamlines existing tax incentives to increase Nevada’s capacity for renewable energy production. On the consumer side, I’ve authored the Renew America’s Schools Act, legislation to promote the use of renewable energy in our public schools.”

How does Nevada’s Republican U.S. Congressional Delegation member feel about renewable energy usage?

On his website, Nevada U.S. Congressman Mark Amodei notes that the abundant supply of natural resources in the state and across the country should be used to meet the nation’s energy requirements. He also was recognized (in 2017), along with other U.S. Congressional members, by the Architects Advocate, an online architectural newspaper, for joining the Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus and working to find solutions to fight worldwide climate change.

“I believe Congress should promote policies that protect and preserve our environment for future generations,” says Amodei on a web page about energy on his site. “Responsible stewardship of our environment requires a commitment to sound science and continuous research. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to support responsible, commonsense reforms that will help conserve our precious natural resources. It is important that we take practical steps today so that our environment is healthy for our children tomorrow.”