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Nevada Legislature Moves on Several Climate and Energy Bills

Clean energy advocates were excited by the prospect of progress and some sort of resolution to the contentious fight over the future of energy in Nevada. How’s that coming along? We finally got some answers this week, as the Legislature hit its deadline to move bills out of their first committee.

Last week, the Assembly Energy Subcommittee moved a series of renewable energy bills to the full Assembly Commerce and Labor Committee. This included AB 206 to strengthen Nevada’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 80% by 2040, AB 223 to expand energy efficiency programs to low-income communities, AB 270 to restore retail rate rooftop solar net metering, and AB 405 to create a “Renewable Energy Bill of Rights”. All these bills hit roadblocks in the full committee, as several legislators had questions… And a few powerful special interests had objections.

On Wednesday, Commerce and Labor finally agreed to pass AB 223 unanimously. AB 223 now goes to the full Assembly.

The fate of the Assembly’s other three major energy bills is yet to be determined.

Yesterday, Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson (D-Spring Valley) exempted AB 206 and AB 405 from the first committee deadline to give his house of the Legislature more time to reach an agreement on possible amendments. Frierson already declared AB 270 exempt last week, so all three bills now have a lifeline. Eventually, these bills will have to move out of the Assembly with enough time to move through the Senate.

Speaking of the Senate, the upper house of #NVLeg moved its energy bills a little more smoothly. On Monday, the Senate Energy Subcommittee moved additional renewable energy bills to the full Senate Commerce, Labor, and Energy (CLE) Committee. These included SB 65 and SB 146 to authorize the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to require utility resource plans that consider environmental and economic benefits, SB 150 to require the PUC to set goals for energy efficiency that includes access for low-income households, and SB 407 to establish a clean energy fund in the Governor’s Office of Energy similar to the “corporations for the public benefit” run by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. The full CLE Committee then passed all the above mentioned bills, with SB 65 passing unanimously and only Senator James Settelmeyer (R-Minden) dissenting on SB 407.

The Senate then moved forward one more clean energy bill just in the nick of time.

If it becomes law, SB 392 will allow for community solar gardens for households that can’t have rooftop solar. This bill also passed the Energy Subcommittee Monday, but was pulled from the full CLE’s work session agenda Wednesday. Yet the following day, it was added to Friday’s work session. After the full committee aired out amendments, they voted 6-1 today to pass SB 392 (with just Settelmeyer dissenting, again).

We’re now starting to get a clearer picture of what the Nevada Legislature may do on the various clean energy bills up this session. On the Senate side, the Commerce, Labor, and Energy Committee moved ahead, and generally in a bipartisan manner, on a full suite of bills ranging from efficiency programs to helping working poor Nevadans afford renewable energy. However, the Assembly Commerce and Labor Committee is still working out agreements on the future of rooftop solar net metering and Nevada’s overall portfolio of renewable energy. Watch this space, as the Legislature only has 52 more days to make a final decision.

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