Monday, May 6, 2013

SB 252 & The Big Picture (of the Green Economy)

Back in February, we saw lines drawn into the sand. US Senator Harry Reid (D) delivered a mean, green ultimatum to the Nevada Legislature. He demanded an end to NV Energy misusing loopholes in Nevada's renewable energy standard to buy hydroelectric power produced in Utah and use that (and occasional light bulb handouts) as "renewable energy produced".

Fast forward to April. NV Energy suddenly announced its plan to shut down the remaining coal fired power plant in Southern Nevada while investing more in renewable energy. Oh, and the plan also calls for more natural gas power plants (which has led to new questions on fracking in Nevada). NV Energy ultimately took possession of SB 123 with NVision, and the possessed bill is moving its way through the Nevada Legislature.

So whatever happened to fixing renewable energy standards? It turns out there's another bill floating in Carson City: SB 252. And believe it or not, it's moving in Carson City.

Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval has said he has a goal of making Nevada an “epicenter of renewable energy,” and Senate Bill 252 passed the Senate on a unanimous vote.

“Closing these loopholes will strengthen the law and send a powerful signal that Nevada remains committed to kicking our dependence on out-of-state fossil fuels,” Reid told legislators in a speech in February.

He said the utility should not get credit for buying hydroelectric power from Utah or “allow them to meet the portfolio standard by handing out energy-efficient light bulbs at Home Depot.” [...]

The bill would make NV Energy spend the credits it has carried over by exceeding the standard during past years. It would also do away with a multiplier effect that allows for the generating capacity of solar panels to count for 2.4 times the actual generating capacity. [...]

Finally, the bill would ratchet down over time the amount of energy efficiency measures that NV Energy can use to meet the renewable energy law.

All changes to the Renewable Portfolio Standard are aimed at spurring renewable energy construction.

SB 252 and SB 123 were originally supposed to be complementary. But now that SB 123 has become NV Energy's proposed rubber stamp energy plan, SB 252 now stands alone as an actual corrective measure to fix Nevada's renewable energy standard.

Of course, the usual "Tea Party, Inc." suspects are screaming about "REGULATIONS!!!" Never mind that even utility companies now see renewable energy standards as good for business. And for all the talk of this being "job killing regulations", solar powered jobs are growing exponentially nationwide. Ultimately, the smart money is being bet on renewable energy. So why shouldn't Nevada be smart?

Fossil fuel cheerleaders take note: Renewable energy ain’t going nowhere —and it may prove to be the better bet in the long run.

By 2030, renewables will account for 70 percent of new power supply worldwide, according to projections released today from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Bloomberg analysts examined gas prices, carbon prices, the dwindling price of green energy technology, and overall energy demand (which, in the US at least, is on a massive decline), and found solar and wind beating fossil fuels like coal and natural gas by 2030.

The chart below shows annual installations of new power sources, in gigawatts; over time, more and more of the new energy supply being built each year comes from renewable sources (like wind turbines and solar panels), by 2030 representing $630 billion worth of investment, while new fossil fuel sources (like coal- or gas-burning power plants) become increasingly rare.

The effect of this projected growth, BNEF CEO Michael Liebreich told Climate Desk at a gathering of clean energy investors today in New York, is that damage to the climate from the electricity sector is likely to taper off even as worldwide electricity use grows. “I believe we’re in a phase of change where renewables are going to take the sting out of growth in energy demand,” he said.

Signs of this transformation are already appearing: Solar power workers now outnumber coal miners nationwide, wind power was the United States’ leading source of new power in 2012, and financial analysts warn that fossil fuel investments are poised to become a very bad bet.

And then, there's the reality of climate change. Yes, believe it or not,climate change remains the serious crisis at our doorstep. We simply can't afford any more flirting with carbon emitting fossil fuels. We're seeing the consequences of this as extended drought is leading to extended wildfire season out here in The Western US.

So in examining the big picture, SB 252 is looking awfully necessary now. Isn't it?

No comments:

Post a Comment