Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval killed two more bills last week, bringing his total to an impressive 41 vetoes for the 2017 legislative session. Most were more than justified, given the Democratic majority’s refusal to reach across the aisle to foster bipartisan consensus.
One of the final measures the governor nixed, last Friday, was Assembly Bill 206. It would have forced Nevada electricity providers to get 40 percent of their energy from renewables by 2030, up from the current standard of 25 percent by 2025. While no doubt well-meaning, AB 206 was an exercise in government micromanagement. It potentially could have driven up costs while forcing utilities to embrace less efficient renewable installations.
While the price of “clean” power has dropped in recent years, and likely will continue to do so as technologies advance, a whole host of external factors drive the price of energy. As much as environmental lobby may not like to hear it, renewables are not yet cost competitive with fossil fuels and are simply not capable at this time of meeting the nation’s energy demands. Utilities need the flexibility to react to market realities without the straitjacket of additional state mandates.
In addition, Nevada voters last November approved Question 3, intended to open the state’s energy market to competition and give consumers more choices. If passed again in 2018, it will become law. It wouldn’t be wise to impose new green energy requirements on utilities until the ramifications of the initiative become clear.
The governor did the right thing with his veto of AB 206.