Guest op-ed: On clean energy, Carson City must lead where Washington fails

solar bees
Solar Foundation

The 80th session of the Nevada Legislature represents a critical opportunity for our state. We can create well-paying jobs; reduce costs for consumers; and make our state a healthier place to live, work, raise a family, and run a business by fully embracing the vast benefits clean energy offers us. That opportunity, and the urgency to take action and seize it, became even clearer when the Solar Foundation released its 2018 Solar Jobs Census. 

That report showed that nationally, solar jobs declined by 3.2 percent, due in large measure to the Trump Administration’s tariffs on solar products. Nevada, on the other hand, was actually able to add 116 solar jobs in 2018, around a 2 percent increase over 2017 for our state. We out-performed the national average precisely because even though Washington failed us, our leaders in Carson City stepped up and led the way.

In 2017, a bipartisan majority in the Legislature made historic progress toward advancing Nevada’s clean energy economy. And in November’s election, voters passed a ballot initiative that would require the state to get at least half of its power from clean sources by the year 2030.

Nevada’s clean energy advocates cheered Gov. Sisolak when, in his first State of the State address, he called on the Legislature to send him a bill increasing our Renewable Portfolio Standard. Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson agrees that we shouldn’t wait for a second vote on the ballot measure, and will lead the charge to get an RPS increase done. And in her response to the State of the State, Sen. Heidi Gansert pledged that Republicans would “work together – on a bi-partisan basis – to support continued development of renewable energy resources for our state.”

We expect a bill to increase the RPS will be introduced soon, and look forward to enacting it swiftly.       

There are other policies we can enact to ensure that every Nevadan has access to clean energy technology and the good jobs and healthier air that comes with it.

In a poll that we conducted last summer, Nevadans overwhelmingly supported community solar, with almost 80% in favor. Many legislators campaigned on the issue.  We’re encouraged to see the discussion starting early, with a community solar bill introduced by state Sen. Mo Denis this week.  It’s time we expand access to clean energy to all of Nevada’s hard-working families.

As we’ve moved to a cleaner and more modern energy system, transportation has now become the number one source of carbon emissions and harmful pollution in our communities. Electric vehicle technology is advancing quickly to meet this challenge, and soon Nevadans from every walk of life will be able to find an electric vehicle that suits their needs. When the Legislature strengthens the RPS, they’ll be able to power that vehicle using clean renewable energy produced right here in our state.

As electric vehicle technology improves, we can reduce electricity costs for consumers – regardless of whether they own an electric vehicle or not. And they also help protect our children from asthma and other health problems linked to vehicle pollution. That’s why we must encourage the development, purchase, and rapid transition to electric vehicles.

Nevada is poised to build on the successes of the last legislative session and lead the nation in clean energy. We look forward to working with the Sisolak Administration, as well as both Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature, to do just that.

Andy Maggi
Andy Maggi is executive director of the Nevada Conservation League.

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