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Nev. Senator files bill to increase renewable standard to 50%

Nevada state Sen. Chris Brooks, D-Las Vegas, introduced a bill March 18 that would require NV Energy Inc.'s utilities to obtain half the power they deliver to customers from renewable generation sources.

Senate Bill 358 would also set a goal, not a statutory requirement, for NV Energy utility subsidiaries Nevada Power Co. and Sierra Pacific Power Co. to produce all of their electricity with zero carbon emissions by 2050. The primary sponsors of the bill also include Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro and Senate President pro tempore Moises Denis.

In 2017, former Republican Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoed a bill Brooks sponsored while he was a member of the state Assembly that would have increased the state's 25%-by-2025 renewable portfolio standard, or RPS, to 40% by 2030.

Voters passed a ballot measure in November 2018 known as Question 6 to require that the RPS be written into the state's constitution. Voters must pass the initiative again in 2020 for it to become law.

Democrat Gov. Steve Sisolak, who won the election in 2018, campaigned on a clean energy platform as a strong supporter of Question 6, saying he would like to put Nevada on the road to obtaining all of its energy from renewables. Sisolak recently issued an executive order for Nevada to join the U.S. Climate Alliance, a group of 23 states committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 28% below 2005 levels by 2025.

While NV Energy's utilities serve most of the state's customers, the utilities' largest customers, including large casinos, have exited and arranged to procure cheaper, greener power from third-party suppliers. The bill's requirements would extend to those suppliers as well.

The measure has strong support from local environmental groups including Western Resource Advocates, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club. Increasing the state's RPS to 50% would spur additional investments and innovation in the state's clean energy sector, which employs nearly 25,000 Nevadans, the groups said.

Brooks' latest bill was referred to the Senate Growth and Infrastructure Committee, but no hearing date has been set. The legislature's 120-day session ends June 3.