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Regulators approve $100 million plan for EV charging stations


by Jeniffer Solis, Nevada Current
December 3, 2021

Nevada approved a $100 million effort to build nearly two thousand electric vehicle chargers over the next three years, one of the state’s largest investments to expand charging infrastructure so far.

The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada authorized NV Energy to invest in charging infrastructure for electric cars and trucks. The draft plan approved Nov. 30 would help install about 120 charging sites with a total of 1,822 chargers.

The plan will allow for NV Energy to own and operate some of the proposed EV charging infrastructure, with “host customers or third-party providers” owning and operating other facilities.

“This is a smart investment in Nevada’s future,” Cameron Dyer, managing senior staff attorney in Nevada for Western Resource Advocates, said in a news release. “NV Energy’s investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure is an important step to get more electric vehicles on our roads.”

About half of the expenditures would serve historically underserved communities that have endured a disproportionate share of transportation pollution, according to the plan. Another 20% will go to an outdoor recreation and tourism program, with the remaining 29% funding behind-the-meter investments in electric vehicle charging infrastructure or stations.

The utility submitted the proposal after the Nevada Legislature required NV Energy to develop and submit an electric infrastructure plan for approval as part of Senate Bill 448.

Investment in charging stations will increase the availability of public electric vehicle charging infrastructure along Nevada’s highways and  support  electric vehicle  tourism  traffic  to  Las  Vegas,  the  Reno-Tahoe  area  and across  the  state, according to the plan, while supporting transit agencies, school districts, local governments, and businesses that want to deploy EVs in their fleets. 

The required $100 million investment by the utility is also meant to stimulate the state economy, which suffered under the pandemic,  without straining the state’s budget.

“People will benefit from this plan even if they don’t drive,” said Angie Dykema, Nevada representative of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. “We estimate that Nevadans will save more than $3 billion on their electricity bills through 2050 as a result of widespread electric vehicle deployment. That’s because electric vehicles can help us get more value out of the investments we make in our electricity grid.”

Conservation groups who fought for more investment in clean energy by the state argue that electric rates are more stable than gasoline prices due to robust domestic production and strong regulation by state public utility commissions.

A report from MJ Bradley & Associates commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, and Western Resource Advocates found that Nevadans could save $21 billion in expenditures on gasoline and maintenance, reduced utility bills, and environmental benefits by 2050 if more drivers make the switch to EVs.

The development comes as the Biden administration is pushing to boost EV deployment and construction of related charging infrastructure. The largest chunk of Biden’s $1.75 trillion social spending plan would pay for tax breaks for electric vehicles and improvements to clean-energy transmission and storage.

In October Nevada became the sixteenth in the nation to adopt clean car standards. The regulations under the “Clean Cars Nevada” set tougher emissions standards for new cars sold in the state and requires automakers to deliver more electric passenger vehicles to the state starting in model year 2025.

“Nevada continues to grapple with the many impacts of climate change – including record-breaking heatwaves, drought, and massive wildfires across the West,” said Gov. Steve Sisolak, in a statement announcing the change. “Clean Cars Nevada is one of many steps we are taking as part of my administration’s commitment to elevate climate action.”

Nevada lawmakers passed a bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero or near-zero within the next three decades, a goal consistent with the Paris Climate Agreement. But Nevada is on the trajectory to miss those carbon reduction goals, largely due to emission levels from the transportation sector, per a 2019 state report on greenhouse gas emissions.

An analysis by research firm Energy Innovation found that without additional action Nevada’s emissions will actually increase 12 percent by 2050 as fossil fuel use outpaces solar power and electric vehicle growth.

The largest source of greenhouse gas emissions year by year in the state comes from transportation, at about 36 percent, according to NDEP. Light-duty vehicles, like passenger cars, account for the majority of emissions at about 70 percent.

More than 2 million light-duty vehicles are registered in Nevada, 60 percent of which are registered in Clark County. Washoe County has the second largest number of registered light-duty vehicles at 17 percent.

Hybrid and electric vehicles make up about 4 percent of the market share for light duty vehicles in the state, according to data from the Nevada Franchised Auto Dealers Association.

Advocates for electric vehicles hope an increase in charging infrastructure in the state will boost the sale of electric vehicles.

“Protecting Nevada from the impacts of the climate crisis requires electric vehicles running on renewable energy,” said Elspeth Cordua DiMarzio, Senior Campaign Representative with Sierra Club, adding that solar energy is a “crucial step” towards reducing heat waves and wildfires.

Nevada Current is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nevada Current maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Hugh Jackson for questions: [email protected]. Follow Nevada Current on Facebook and Twitter.

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