ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The highest-profile clean energy bill to pass out of the legislative session was SB448, a measure aimed at ramping up electric transmission capacity and electric vehicle charging infrastructure as part of the effort to move Nevada to near-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The bill, introduced in early May, was heartily supported by NV Energy (as it all but ensures completion of the utility’s partially approved “Greenlink Nevada” transmission line upgrade) and Gov. Steve Sisolak’s administration, which hosted a roundtable promoting the bill shortly after it was introduced.

Beyond expanded transmission, the legislation requires the utility to invest $100 million over the next two years on targeted electric vehicle charging infrastructure, expanding existing tax credit programs to cover energy storage facilities, allowing multi-family or commercial buildings to tap into the rooftop solar net metering program, and reopening a 2013 economic development rate rider program aimed at giving new large businesses a discount on energy costs.

Brooks has touted the bill as the state’s next step in meeting carbon reduction targets set in past legislative sessions, as well as a chance to open up new clean energy production through expanded transmission capacity. SB448 passed unanimously out of the Senate and on a 32-10 vote in the Assembly.

Lawmakers also advanced AB383, which would require the state to eventually phase out non-energy efficient appliances. That measure passed on party-line votes in both the Assembly and Senate.

Legislators also approved SB442, which will eliminate a property tax abatement program for certain buildings or structures that meet minimum energy efficiency standards. State energy officials said the standards required under the program, which has abated more than $105 million in property taxes since 2010, are now less than the minimum standards required by universally-adopted model building codes.

But not every clean energy bill made it out of the legislative session. One high-profile failure came from a concept included in Sisolak’s climate strategy that called for transitioning away from natural gas, requiring new homes to support all-electric appliances and giving customers more opportunities to choose between natural gas and electricity in existing homes.

AB380, backed by environmental groups, would have required gas utilities to undergo a more exhaustive planning process before utility regulators approve new infrastructure, paid for by ratepayers, that could quickly become outdated amid a push to transition away from fossil fuels. 

But Southwest Gas, the state’s largest gas utility, strongly opposed the legislation and engaged in a heavy and successful lobbying effort to kill the bill. Another measure supported by the natural gas utility, SB296, would have allowed it to replace thousands of miles of pipelines as part of an infrastructure modernization plan, but that bill also died.Other energy-related measures that failed to advance included SB382 (ramping up of energy efficiency programs, opposed by NV Energy) and a proposed constitutional amendment broadening the use of fuel taxes to “transportation infrastructure.”