Nevada has a tremendous solar resource, which could power homes, businesses and even casinos. And with its proximity to California’s hungry energy market, Nevada could also be an exporter of solar energy. Nevada’s renewable energy goal (known as an “RPS target”) is 25% renewable by 2025. There is a specific solar goal in place as well: 5% of the annual RPS target must be met with solar through 2015 (1.2% of sales in 2015), increasing to 6% for 2016-2025 (1.5% of sales in 2025). The state’s main utility, NV Energy, is well on track to meet its RPS target years ahead of schedule.
Policy Needs and Next Steps
Although over 28 megawatts of small-scale on-site solar systems have been installed in the state as of February 2012, a trip to Las Vegas will show that the opportunity to power Nevada’s strip and beyond with onsite solar is untapped. The state does not have a specific small-scale solar goal, and thus the majority of solar projects installed through the solar goal are large-scale wholesale solar projects (335 megawatts planned as of February 2012). Vote Solar will continue to work with our instate partners to create a robust small-scale solar market in the state.
On the large-scale solar front, Jim Baak, Vote Solar’s lead in the Southwest on large-scale solar issues, continues to be active in the state at the legislative and regulatory levels.
Nevada first passed a renewable portfolio standard in 2001. Since then the RPS has been updated several times, most recently in 2005, when the legislature increased the RPS goals to 20% by 2015 — with a 5% solar set-aside. In 2009, the Nevada legislature passed substantial renewable energy legislation. The state’s renewable energy goal was increased to 25% renewable by 2025, with a 6% carve-out for solar. We fought hard to expand the distributed generation (DG) solar market opportunity in Nevada in 2009. Tax abatements for renewable energy power plant development were locked in, and modest changes were secured for the state’s solar rebate program. Read more about what the policy changes meant for distributed generation solar here, and large-scale solar here.
During the 2011 legislative session, we continued our work to expand the distributed generation or ‘rooftop’ solar market in Nevada. Our proposal would have allowed the rapid growth of customer sited solar projects to continue by creating a 400 MW by 2020 goal and an expansion of the current 1% net metering enrollment limit to 5%. While the bill we supported failed to become law, we remain committed to forwarding the market in the next legislative session.
New Vote Solar economic report shines light on Nevada’s large-scale solar opportunity. Read more here.
Vote Solar’s lead for Nevada is Jim Baak, who can be reached at email@example.com. Annie Carmichael provides support to Jim, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 720.402.9102.