Renewable energy will be on the ballot in Nevada once again.
Question 6, also known as the Renewable Energy Promotion Initiative, is a ballot initiative that, if approved by voters, would require every provider of electric service in Nevada to generate or acquire at least half its power from renewable sources by 2030.
The measure first appeared on the 2018 ballot and was overwhelmingly approved by voters with nearly 60 percent of the vote, however, the measure is an amendment to the Nevada Constitution, meaning it must be approved by voters twice.
With no official opposition, the ballot question is expected to pass with similar enthusiasm in 2020.
Last year in March, Democratic state Sen. Chris Brooks of Las Vegas introduced a bill designed to achieve the same goal, requiring electric utilities to acquire 50 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by 2030. The bill eventually passed both the Nevada Senate and Assembly unanimously. Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak later signed the bill into law.
“Renewable energy is a major cornerstone of my economic development plan, and this bill will put Nevada back on the path toward renewable energy leadership on a nationwide level and continue to bring well-paying jobs to our communities,” said Sisolak at the time.
Previous attempts to increase Nevada’s renewable standard were unsuccessful. During the 2017 legislative session, a group of state legislators successfully passed a bill to increase the RPS to 40 percent renewables by 2030, but it was vetoed by former Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, who cited “significant uncertainty” and called the effort “commendable” but “premature in the face of evolving energy policy in Nevada.”
In 2019, NV Energy achieved an overall 27.5 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard — exceeding its 20 percent requirement.
Total Nevada emissions have increased 25 percent since 1990, but have decreased 27 percent from a 2005 peak. For the past decade, Nevada has moved away from coal-fired electric generation for cleaner, less expensive, natural gas, and to a lesser extent a variety of renewable energy sources like solar thermal, solar photovoltaic, and wind.
A report from the Solar Energy Industries Association found Nevada installed the third-highest amount of solar nationally in the second quarter of 2020. Nevada had an estimated 7,000 solar jobs were in 2019, and solar accounted for a 15 percent of the state’s electricity, according to the report.
Impacts from climate change — both ecological and economic — will be harsh in sunbelt states like Nevada, making Nevada more expensive and less livable, according to some of the grim conclusions in the Fourth National Climate Assessment issued in 2018.