Nevada bill would raise RPS to 80% by 2040

Well, that’s one way to make a splash on your first day as the chair of the Energy Subcommittee in the Nevada Assembly.

Assemblyman Chris Brooks, long a solar champion, used his first day in the chair to propose AB 206, a bill that would increase Nevada’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) from its current 2017 level of 20% to 80% by 2040.

The increases would come in two-year intervals starting in 2018-2019, when the RPS would jump 4% from the current goal of 22% to 26%. It would then rise 4% in each subsequent year until 2030, when utilities would be required to produce 50% of their electricity from renewable energy.

In addition to the incremental rises, the bill instructs the director of the Nevada Office of Energy to provide the legislature with an update by Nov. 30 in every even-numbered year about how the state will reach an 80% RPS by 2040, including reports on technological advances and financing advances that will allow this to happen.

AB 206, which has five co-sponsors in addition to Brooks, also requires the Public Utilities Commision of Nevada (PUCN) to set new RPS standards for utilities in the state immediately to move them toward the higher goal.

The bold proposal comes in the wake of two years of almost uninterrupted bedlam surrounding the solar industry in Nevada. In December 2015, the PUCN abruptly eliminated solar net-metering programs, leading to national companies pulling out of the state entirely and throwing the rooftop distributed-generation (DG) segment of the industry into turmoil.

Since then, the PUCN has walked back the most egregious aspects of the 2015 decision, including restoring net-metering for 20 years to pre-2015 solar customers. While the walk-back hasn’t completely restored the rooftop DG market in the state, it has eased concerns among most state observers, who now believe the rooftop segment will recover despite the previous disruption.