Renewable energy should be bedrock of Nevada’s energy supply portfolio
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Renewable energy should be bedrock of Nevada’s energy supply portfolio

Jun 21, 2023

This opinion column was submitted by Michelle Hamilton, the Nevada state co-coordinator for Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

Gov. Lombardo’s executive order dated March 21 defines Nevada’s energy objectives. The focus is on “developing and maintaining a diverse energy supply portfolio” while “utilizing a balanced approach to electric and natural gas energy supply and transportation fuels.”

What should be part of Nevada’s diverse energy supply portfolio?

We know that Nevada is the new frontier of renewable energy development. In 2022, renewable energy from all sources was 37% of our total power generation. For total electricity generation from solar, Nevada ranked sixth in the U.S. — not surprising, given our abundant sunshine. For geothermal, Nevada was second at 24% of the total produced in the U.S. Only California generated more. We’ve even got some wind energy in the northeast and hydroelectric from Hoover Dam.

The need for electricity will continue to grow. This is driven in part by the transition to EVs and building electrification. We need to build more power plants.

Good news! Electricity generated from a new solar plant is now 3% cheaper than a new natural gas power plant. Almost all of the nation’s coal-fired power plants are less cost-effective than constructing new solar facilities.

The market has run the numbers and the result is clear: Renewables are a better business opportunity. In 2022, 77% of new electricity generation was powered by renewable sources. Last year, 92% of the permits for new electricity generation were for wind and solar power plants.

These companies are creating good-paying jobs. A report finds that red states are leading the U.S. in solar and wind production; more than 100,000 climate-friendly jobs were created in less than a year. Let’s make sure those jobs come to Nevada by encouraging the renewable energy industry.

And we all know that renewable energy is abundant, especially in Nevada! There are nearly 100 solar plant applications pending in Nevada. Let’s make sure some of that electricity stays in Nevada.

It’s also worth noting that the Nevada Legislature first adopted a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) in 1997. The RPS currently requires Nevada to generate 50% of electricity from renewable energy by 2030.

Clearly, Nevada’s balanced energy supply portfolio should rely heavily on renewable energy. It’s cheaper, healthier, a huge business opportunity for our state, and required by the RPS.

Nevada produces only small amounts of natural gas and crude oil and does not produce any coal. Those resources are very scarce in our state.

Burning fossil fuels releases carbon pollution into the air we breathe. This pollution contributes to heart disease, stroke, asthma, chronic lung disease, and the risk of death from COVID-19. It is also overheating the planet.

Clearly, Nevada’s balanced energy supply portfolio should de-emphasize coal, oil and natural gas, with the goal of transitioning off these fuels.

Nevada should lean into the renewable energy future. We need more solar, in all its forms, to come online faster. It’s good for our health, the economy and the planet. Call on Gov. Lombardo to support the clean energy economy for the good of all Nevadans.

Michelle Hamilton is a marketing consultant in Reno and the Nevada state co-coordinator for Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

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