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COMMENTARY: Bill increasing renewable energy standards is good for Nevada

The people of Nevada have an opportunity to make a strong commitment to creating healthier communities and cleaner air by supporting Assembly Bill 206, a proposal to increase clean energy investment in Nevada.

Passage of this bill would require 50 percent of the energy delivered by Nevada utilities to come from renewable sources — such as solar and geothermal — by 2030 and create a pathway to 80 percent renewables by 2040. AB 206 marks an important step forward from the current requirement that 25 percent of Nevada’s electricity come from renewable resources by the year 2025.

As the costs of renewables has decreased dramatically in recent years — the cost of solar energy has fallen 53 percent since 2010 — a commitment to increased use of electricity from renewable sources ensures good stewardship of financial resources. Dignity Health, along with a growing number of Fortune 500 companies, has set and is meeting climate and energy goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including investing in renewable energy. States with robust clean energy standards often offer more opportunities for businesses to gain access to renewable energy and can attract more corporate investments.

Clean energy not only makes economic sense, but it is also the expectation of customers, employees and investors. Successful companies are always looking for ways to save money, reduce risks and plan for the future. Clean energy policies, like a stronger renewable energy standard, help ensure all customers can take advantage of the benefits of having more renewable energy on the grid.

As hospitals are, by nature, high energy users and consumers, our St. Rose Dominican recognizes and values the significant cost savings provided by renewable energy and energy efficiency. Above all, for our hospitals and clinics, we know the cost of inaction far exceeds the cost of action and smart investing in renewables.

In our hospitals and clinics, we witness what the cost of dirty air means to human health. The particle pollution from U.S. coal plants alone is estimated to cause $100 billion a year in health costs, as well as 13,200 deaths, 9,700 hospitalizations, and 20,000 heart attacks. Children, the elderly and people with respiratory diseases are hardest hit.

We believe that human health is inextricably linked to the health of our planet. Our healing mission calls us to stewardship — of our fiscal resources and in the way we deliver health care and care for the environment. Key to our efforts is to modernize the health delivery system in ways that make higher quality care more accessible at a lower cost while promoting community health and a healthy environment.

The sustainability of health care needs leadership, innovation and an investment in renewable resources. We encourage lawmakers to support the passage of AB 206 into law. Together with the people of Nevada, we can make a strong community-wide commitment to the stewardship and sustainability of our state’s health care, economic and natural resources for this and future generations.

Sister Phyllis Sikora is vice president for mission integration and spiritual care for Dignity Health Nevada.

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