Now’s the time for Nevada lawmakers to accelerate on electric cars

By Ken Evans

The Nevada Legislature’s interim Legislative Committee on Energy is meeting this month for the first time. While the 2019 Legislature took big steps forward on clean energy, more work remains, especially in the transportation sector. This committee will be crucial in assessing the energy policies Nevada needs heading into the 2021 legislative session.

My nearly 35-year professional career has included several civilian and military experiences related to real estate development and the infrastructure systems required to support the development. As the president of the Urban Chamber of Commerce in Las Vegas, I now represent over 300 businesses. As such, I am acutely aware that Nevada must consider the future of transportation–and plan accordingly. 

States have struggled to establish a transportation and infrastructure revenue model that is fair and equitable to electric vehicle owners. Although well-intentioned, several approaches have resulted in the unintended consequence of making these vehicles cost-prohibitive for most drivers without bringing in significant revenue. Nevada can take a smarter, more holistic approach by studying the options, factors, and benefits that electric vehicles provide – and those benefits are significant.

The cost to power an electric vehicle in Nevada is about $1 per gallon, meaning Nevada drivers can save on maintenance and fuel costs. Whether they own just one vehicle or a fleet of hundreds, Nevada businesses can succeed and grow through those savings. Installing charging infrastructure for these new vehicles provides yet another economic development opportunity for our community. Nevada cities can elevate local workforce development in training workers from disadvantaged backgrounds to install charging stations in homes and businesses.

There’s another set of benefits to factor in when we think about the switch to clean transportation, and that’s improvements to our health. Exhaust is linked to a number of health issues, and Clark County’s air quality is poorly ranked. The impacts are most pronounced in low-income communities and communities of color. By promoting electric vehicles, we are creating a better quality of life, new business opportunities, and savings for employers and workers alike – a triple bottom line.

That’s why any plan to fund our infrastructure needs must be equitable and must consider the gains we’ll see from promoting electric vehicle adoption. I believe the Committee on Energy is up to this task. Its leaders are Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno, who led the push to expand access to solar power, and Sen. Chris Brooks, who championed the increase in Nevada’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. Now is the time to chart a path toward a future where that clean energy is powering zero-emission electric vehicles.

Lt. Colonel (ret.) Ken Evans is currently a board member for the Uplift Foundation. As part of its focus, the Uplift Foundation participates in outreach activities to ensure communities of color are aware of the social, environmental and economic development benefits of renewable energy.