From storage incentives to rules on windmills, energy measures advance to governor

Tue, May 23, 2017 (2 a.m.)

CARSON CITY — Lawmakers gave final approval to several energy bills that will now make their way to the governor.

The Assembly passed the measures Monday to incentivize customers to install solar energy storage systems, research possible targets for utility companies to procure energy storage systems, and make it easier for residents to put up windmills.

Assembly members also agreed with a Senate amendment to a bill that supporters say will help save energy and lower bills for customers, sending that to Gov. Brian Sandoval’s desk as well.

Senate Bill 145 on incentives for energy storage passed out of the Assembly Monday with 36-5 vote. Sen. Pat Spearman, D-North Las Vegas, sponsored the bill, which also creates the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Demonstration Program.

“We have to make sure we are moving forward in a progressive and comprehensive way with respect to our energy strategy,” Spearman has said previously. “We need to put in place a strategy and policies that will allow us to move forward systematically and methodically so that we protect what has already been invested by the incumbent utility company while making sure we have the elasticity in our laws to allow new entrants into the market.”

Senate Bill 204 requires the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada to investigate whether to establish biennial targets for certain electric utilities to procure energy storage systems. The Assembly passed the bill with a 39-2 vote on Monday.

Bill sponsor Sen. Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, said the measure goes a long way toward helping Nevada be a leader in clean energy.

“These are things we have to continue to work on and to be open about to make progress,” Atkinson has said. “There is no doubt that these types of bills bring jobs. I think everyone on this committee will agree that creating jobs for our citizens is one of Nevada's goals. But empowering our consumers is also essential. I hope we are able to work on this to give the (PUC) clear direction.”

Senate Bill 314 revises provisions related to the installation of certain systems for obtaining wind energy, and passed unanimously out of the Assembly on Monday.

The bill is sponsored by the Senate Commerce Labor and Energy Committee, which includes Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden. He has said the bill came out of discussions in the 2015-16 Legislative Committee on Energy, when some brought up the government regulations they found when trying to put up windmills and other renewable energy sources on their property.

“In my opinion, there were arbitrary standards like height restrictions that are not consistent to counties,” Settelmeyer has said.

Also heading to the governor is Assembly Bill 223, which requires electric utilities to create an energy efficiency plan that reduces the consumption of electricity through energy efficiency and conservation programs. At least 5 percent of the program’s expenditures would generally need to be dedicated to low-income customers.

Assemblyman William McCurdy II, D-Las Vegas, sponsored the bill and has said that lower-income Nevada residents devote a greater percentage of their income to paying electricity bills. He said energy efficiency methods such as using LED lighting and weatherization can lower bills and allow families to devote limited income toward other needs.

“If we allow for more energy efficiency toward all Nevadans, especially the lower-income Nevadans that are suffering from higher energy costs, we stand to save over $3.4 billion over a period of 10 years,” McCurdy says.

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