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New Energy Policy to be Heard in Legislature Could Bring Economic Opportunities to Nevada



The Senate Committee on Commerce, Labor and Energy will hold a hearing on Senate Bill 184 (SB184) on Monday, March 7 at 1:00pm. The bill will create a Renewable Energy Systems Development Program—a first of its kind policy in Nevada. It will require the Public Utility Commission of Nevada to develop a program where any person or business with a renewable energy generation system will be paid a fair “rate” to generate and “feed” their energy into the electric grid. Programs of this kind
are commonly known as a feed-in tariff (FIT) where the term “tariff” is not a tax, but a “rate” paid.

A FIT is the most cost effective way to accelerate the use of cleaner technologies to generate electricity in Nevada,” said Dr. John Scire, UNR adjunct professor of political science who has taught energy policy and politics for the last ten years.

“The FIT created by SB184 will have seven major economic benefits,” Dr. Scire continued: “(1) It will enable those
who decide to participate to actually make a profit from their generation of electricity, whereas now they can only offset their bills and any extra electricity they generate is a gift to NV Energy. (2) FITs will enable NV Energy to attain its Renewable Portfolio Standard for generating clean energy at a lower cost. (3) It will eliminate the need for NV Energy to build new long-distance transmission lines because the FIT is a form of distributed generation. (4) If FITs become widespread, they could enable NV Energy to avoid spending more money fixing up its old coal-fired plants. (5) Any reduction in coal use will keep capital in our state since every pound of coal is imported and the money spent on coal only enriches our neighbors to the East and North. (6) A FIT will employ hundreds, perhaps thousands of Nevadans to do the installations. And (7),
although no solar panels, inverters, etc. are built in this state, a successful FIT program will bring Nevada to the attention of the manufacturers, and that will make it much more likely that they will locate a plant here to fabricate solar panels and other clean energy products. The only downside is a very small increase in everyone’s monthly electric bills. That cost is a small price to pay to gain all of the above benefits.”

“This policy will allow us to optimally use our urban areas to supply energy to the grid,” added John Hadder of the FIT4NV Initiative and director of Great Basin Resource Watch, “that maximizes efficiency, and provides an alternative financing arrangement allowing all people to participate. SB184 is truly an ‘Energy by the People’ policy.”

Unlike existing incentive programs, SB184 is not a taxpayer subsidy; it costs the government nothing. And it is not an incentive like rebate and net-metering programs. Rather, the SB184 FIT is nothing more that payment for generation under a simple contact agreement and at a fair price—and that get manufacturers excited!

“Passage of the Renewable Energy Systems Development Program (SB 184),” said Glen Williams and Eric Severance of the Reno based Solar Venture Partners, LLC, “would signal that Nevada is turning its vision to be a leader in the green energy economic revolution into action. SB184 creates a fair and accommodating regulatory environment for renewable energy that will drive rapid, sustained, and widespread renewable energy development in Nevada by a wide spectrum of businesses. Investors are looking for opportunities to participate in long-term RE products with a reasonable return on investment and property owners are looking for additional income opportunities. Properly designed programs such as what is proposed in SB184 can help reduce the overall cost of RE development by reducing investment risk. The stability of feed-in programs makes it more likely that investors will provide financing, making more capital available for renewable energy development. This spurs economic development and creates local jobs. With all of its natural attributes, Nevada couldn’t be in a better position for renewable energy, and this is an excellent way for Nevada to invest in its future.”

“The marketplace created by a state of the art FIT program,” said Bob Tregilus author of a recent economic assessment of a Nevada FIT, “we think will mark a “tipping point” that would mobilize the capital necessary to launch Nevada’s economic recovery. With California, the eighth largest economy on the planet immediately to our west as well as a favorable business climate to draw industry to Nevada, we are well positioned to supply equipment for not only renewable energy development in our state, but especially to neighboring states—first, however, we must send a clear signal to the renewable energy industry that Nevada is ready to do business. Feed-in tariffs are the power to renew our economy!”

The FIT4NV economic assessment maybe downloaded from the FIT4NV website at http://www.FIT4NV.org.

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