With an unprecedented level of bi-partisan support, both houses of the Nevada legislature have passed a bill to establish a state renewable energy standard of 50 percent by 2030. The vote was unanimous, with “yea” votes recorded by every Republican and Democrat in the Nevada Senate and General Assembly.

The legislation (S.B. 358), which also sets a goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2050, was signed into law by Governor Sisolak on April 22.

Given Nevada’s tremendous solar and geothermal energy potential, the low costs of these energy sources, and the state’s urgent need to diversify away from expensive natural gas generation, passing this legislation was the smart and conservative choice.

Currently, Nevada depends on out-of-state natural gas for more than two thirds of its electricity generation. This makes no sense for a state that has unrivaled solar and geothermal resources–even more so, now that electricity generated by these renewables is cheaper than electricity generated using natural gas. Even new solar plants with storage are beating the price of gas-generated power.

Also, since the price of natural gas is projected to double between now and 2030, Nevada residents were facing significant electricity rate increases. Solar energy, by contrast, is forecast to continue getting cheaper.

CRS has been sounding the alarm about Nevada’s risky over-reliance on natural gas and the lack of diversity in its electricity portfolio for several years. It is gratifying to see the state take this prudent action to address that problem.

There are still some on the political right, mostly those with close ties to special interests, who still peddle tired old canards that renewable energy is unreliable and survives only because of subsidies. Such claims have been been invalided by rapid technological advances and the power of the free market.

Thankfully, the Nevada legislature has plenty of thoughtful energy-smart conservative leaders who base their views and actions on current realities. Senate Minority Leader James Settelmeyer, Co-Minority Whip Heidi Seevers Gansert, Assembly Minority Leader Jim Wheeler, and Legislative Executive Committee Chair Jill Tolles, all deserve enormous credit for their leadership on this and other energy issues.

The unanimous passage of S.B. 358 is more than a win for renewable energy, it is a big bi-partisan win for every Nevadan, who can now look forward to a brighter and more secure energy future, low electricity rates, and all of the economic growth that will come from that.

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