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Nevada on track to comply with EPA’s new carbon dioxide regs

CARSON CITY — A state official said Thursday that Nevada is “well positioned” to comply with the new carbon dioxide reduction requirements by 2030 recently mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Sig Jaunarajs, an official with the state Division of Environmental Protection, said the goal set for Nevada is expected to be achieved because of several recent actions, including the passage of Senate Bill 123 in 2013 that requires NV Energy to close its Reid Gardner coal-fired power plant by 2017. Three of the four units closed at the end of 2014. Coal has more than twice the carbon dioxide emissions than natural gas.

Also helping is Nevada’s renewable portfolio standard, he said.

The percentage of renewable energy required by the standard will increase every two years until it reaches 25 percent in 2025.

Nevada is not contemplating any legal challenge to the new standards, called the Clean Power Plan. The state has to submit a final plan on how to achieve the reductions by 2018.

David Emme, administrator of the agency, said the state submitted critical comments on the proposal and the EPA responded to those concerns with the final rules.

Jennifer Taylor, executive director of the Clean Energy Project, applauded the decision by Gov. Brian Sandoval and administration officials to move forward with implementing the new EPA rules.

“This plan will not only reduce power plant carbon emissions but will further develop Nevada’s growing clean energy economy,” she said. “Increased reliance on Nevada’s homegrown renewable energy resources allows Nevada to remain a national leader in clean energy development, job creation, generation and transmission.”

The new rules require reductions from existing fossil fuel power plants.

The final EPA rules limit carbon dioxide production starting in 2022 with the final goal in Nevada in 2030 of 855 pounds per megawatt hour. Nevada is expected to achieve this target without difficulty, achieving a level of 578 pounds of carbon dioxide by that year by one estimate.

These targets are well below the 1,280 pounds of CO2 produced in Nevada in 2013, which was already significantly reduced from the 1,770 pounds of CO2 reported in 2005.

At a workshop on the new EPA regulations, speakers voiced support for the CO2 reductions but suggested Nevada could do even more.

Bob Fulkerson, state director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, urged regulators to ensure that the state’s final plan to address CO2 emissions benefits all Nevadans. Lower income people are frequently at greater risk from air pollution because they often live closer to the sources of pollution, he said. PLAN is an umbrella advocacy organization that represents more than 40 liberal-leaning groups in Nevada.

Fulkerson also called for state policymakers to implement a regulatory overhaul to separate utility profits from consumption to allow the state to maximize energy efficiency. The current system encourages NV Energy to build new capacity projects and increase consumption to be profitable, he said.

Nevadans should be able to install rooftop solar systems without fear that the state Public Utilities Commission will approve new fees that will kill the industry, Fulkerson said.

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Find him on Twitter: @seanw801.

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