Nevada Approves Law to Require Renewable Energy

Legislation has been approved in Nevada that will require electric utilities in the state to buy more power from solar, geothermal and other renewable energy sources.

CARSON CITY, Nevada, US, 2001-06-12 [SolarAccess.com] Legislation has been approved in Nevada that will require electric utilities in the state to buy more power from solar, geothermal and other renewable energy sources. Senate Bill 372 was signed into law on June 8 by Governor Kenny Guinn. The law will require Nevada Power and Sierra Pacific Power to generate at least 15 percent of their electricity from renewables by 2013. “The use of renewable energy, along with conservation and accelerated power plant construction, is an essential part of our overall strategy to avoid a severe energy crisis,” says Guinn. “I’m proud to sign SB372, which I believe will substantially boost the use of renewable energy sources and encourage us to look at alternative, clean fuels.” The legislation was introduced on March 16 and was declared an emergency measure under the state’s Constitution. It was approved unanimously in both the Senate and the Assembly. The utilities must generate 5 percent of their electricity from renewables by in 2003, and that level will increase by 2 percentage points every other year until it reaches the target of 15 percent in 12 years. The bill had been criticized by some politicians, notably Republican minority leader Lynn Hettrick, who said it would result in higher utility bills. He said renewable energies cost more than power from coal or natural gas, and tried to put a limit on how much the utilities must pay to obtain renewable energy. The Public Service Commission will determine if the price for renewable energy is reasonable before a utility can be ordered to purchase. The PSC also can review efforts by the utilities to acquire green power and can exempt them from the percentage requirements. Sierra Pacific and Nevada Power will be allowed to combine their assets to determine if they meet the purchase requirements. Last year, Sierra Pacific generated 5.4 percent of its electricity from geothermal while Nevada Power has virtually no renewables in its energy mix. By combining assets, 3 percent of their combined power is generated from renewables. The law moves Nevada into a leadership position in the United States in the promotion of renewable energy development. The 15 percent renewable portfolio standard is the largest percentage for new renewables in the country, with only Maine leading in absolute percentages. The renewable energy industry estimates the stimulus would be $3 billion over ten years. The PSC must now draft regulations to implement the law.

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