In Nevada, Renewable Energy is a Unanimous Winner

When it comes to clean energy, the sun is shining once again in Nevada.

State lawmakers just passed — and Gov. Steve Sisolak is expected to sign — legislation that would require Nevada to get 50 percent of its energy from solar, geothermal, and other clean, renewable sources by 2030. The legislation, sponsored by state Sen. Chris Brooks of Las Vegas, also sets a goal for the state’s utilities to get 100 percent of its electricity from zero-carbon sources by 2050.

Solar installers work on the rooftop of a 110,000-square-foot Republic Services building in North Las Vegas. (From Clean Jobs Nevada; photo courtesy of Bombard)

Friday’s unanimous passage of Senate Bill 358 by the Nevada Assembly came just days after the state Senate also passed it — also with unanimously agreement. Especially in this partisan age, passage of any legislation with total agreement from every Republican and Democrat is both remarkable and refreshing.

What makes renewable energy so unanimously appealing in Nevada is that residents and lawmakers have learned that more clean energy means more jobs.

Earlier this month, E2 released its Clean Jobs Nevada report showing that more than 32,000 Nevadans now work in clean energy. About a third of those jobs are at solar companies, but the Silver State is quickly staking its claim as a leader in other clean energy sectors as well. Thanks in large part to Tesla’s Gigafactory battery plant, about 8,500 Nevadans now work in energy storage and related fields. Storey County, home to the Tesla battery factory, has the highest density of clean energy jobs in the country. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) estimates a 50 percent renewable standard will create 11,000 new jobs in 2030.

A few weeks ago, I was in Carson City to help release Clean Jobs Nevada report and discuss its findings with lawmakers from every corner of the state. Time and time again, lawmakers told me they now understood the economic benefits — namely jobs — that come with clean energy. The legislature’s Republican leader later tweeted with pride about the number of clean energy jobs in his home county. Another told me he didn’t really care about climate change or global warming or melting ice caps, but he did care about the jobs and investments that came with clean energy. Later that day, the renewable energy bill passed with bipartisan support (unanimously once again) in a key committee, before going on to pass the full Senate floor.

Nevada lawmakers are simply doing what their constituents want. Last year, Nevada voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure calling for 50 percent renewables by 2030, which spurred the passage of the new law. Nevada’s rekindled love for clean energy is already attracting the attention of clean energy companies and employers: In 2018, clean energy jobs in Nevada grew by 32 percent — the fastest growth rate of any state in the country, according to E2’s analysis.

As longtime Las Vegas energy attorney and E2 member Curt Ledford recently wrote in the Las Vegas Sun, “Policy matters. When Nevada’s elected officials enact smart, business-friendly, clean energy policies, the state’s economy grows.”

With the passage of the new 50 percent renewable energy legislation, Nevada joins a number of states — California, New York, Illinois, New Mexico to name a few — in showing real leadership on clean energy at a time when it’s needed more than ever.

It also sends a clear message to other states across the country: That smart clean energy policies aren’t just good for the environment, but good for the economy.

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