Just hours after the Nevada Legislature adjourned Sine Die, a group of environmental and energy activists returned to deliver to Governor Brian Sandoval (R) over 7,000 petition signatures urging him to sign AB 206 into law. Why do they feel this strongly about the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) bill? We followed them to the Governor’s Office in the Old State Capitol to find out.
AB 206 was introduced in February to update the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) of how much renewable energy Nevada generates. Its long journey through the Assembly resulted in a bipartisan 30-12 vote to pass on May 24. Then on the final day of the legislative session, the Senate voted a 12-9 party-line vote to pass the amended version of the bill to raise the RPS to 40% by 2030.
Why did these activists return to Carson City?
The day after Sine Die, activists and key allies met at the Legislative Building and walked across the Capitol Complex to the Governor’s office to deliver over 7,000 petition signatures urging Sandoval to sign AB 206. Once they arrived at Sandoval’s office, they handed over the petitions to staff as Senior Policy Analyst Andrew Clinger was walking in. They also left notes in the official guest book asking Sandoval to sign the bill.
As activists filed out, Vote Solar Interior West Director Jessica Scott spoke with us about how AB 206 can help Sandoval enhance his reputation as a climate and energy leader. “The Governor convened the New Energy Task Force, and supported the Clean Power Plan. I’m hopeful he will continue to strengthen these efforts. This is the future of Nevada.” (The Governor’s New Energy Task Force specifically included a 50% by 2040 RPS update in its list of recommendations.)
Who else wants a stronger RPS? These businesses do.
Andy Wirth is not only the President and CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, but also the Vice-chair of the Reno-Tahoe International Airport Board of Trustees. During the rally, he dispelled opponents’ claim that AB 206 and other renewable energy programs are “anti-business”. “This is really something that everyone in the private sector is closely watching. It couldn’t be a better time to lead.”
So did Assembly Member Chris Brooks (D-Las Vegas), the sponsor of AB 206, when he spoke with us before the rally. “Companies that make up the New Nevada support this. I think this shows where Nevada is headed.” He then cited a list of companies supporting the bill, such as MGM Resorts, Tesla, Switch, and Zappos. “There are companies coming into Nevada that are demanding 100% renewable energy. This is a way for to bring in more of these businesses.”
Vote Solar’s Jessica Scott also noted prominent Republicans who support AB 206, such as Assembly Member Jill Tolles (R-Reno) and long-time Nevada Republican power player Sig Rogich. “Clean energy is a bipartisan issue. This [and the other energy bills] had strong support in the Legislature along with very strong public support.”
Senator Pat Spearman (D-North Las Vegas) worked on energy issues on the Senate side this session. She noted how AB 206 opponents’ other alleged concerns, such as resource planning and costs to low-income households, were already addressed in other bills. She then recalled opponents’ similar concerns when Nevada’s RPS was last updated in 2009 to 25% by 2025. NV Energy surpassed that RPS in 2015.
“We’ve often been told we can’t do this. We’re often told we have to go slower”, Spearman said. “We’re not going slower. This is about doing the right thing.”
What happens next?
Since the Nevada Legislature finished its work on AB 206 on the final day of the session, the Governor has ten days to act on that bill. Renewable energy advocates expressed hope that Sandoval would ignore the political attacks and judge AB 206 on its merits. He has yet to announce what he intends to do on this bill. Watch this space.