Renewable energy lobbyists lack faith in renewable energy

If you have a superior product, you don’t need a government mandate.

That’s why the claims made by “green” energy advocates ring hollow as they push to increase Nevada’s renewable portfolio standard from 25 percent by 2025 to 50 percent by 2030. On Friday, Senate Commerce, Labor and Energy heard testimony on AB206, sponsored by Assemblyman Chris Brooks, D-Las Vegas.

The claims pushed by supporters, ranging from environmental groups to solar companies to Zappos, are alluring.

“We know from experience with our rooftop solar array that clean solar energy is abundant, efficient and cost effective, especially in the Nevada desert,” Zappos said in an unsigned letter of support.

What makes these discussions especially important is that Nevada voters are likely to approve a constitutional amendment in 2018 that requires our state to have energy choice. If you don’t remember Question 3, it requires “the Legislature to provide by law for an open, competitive retail electric energy market by July 1, 2023.” Voters approved it overwhelmingly in 2016, so final approval in 2018 is likely.

This would allow consumers to choose their power producer based on the criteria they select. Texas has had energy choice for years, and the results are incredible. Its energy market functions like Expedia. Consumers search providers and select the option that’s best for them based on price, star rankings and percentage of power generated by renewable sources.

Go to and enter ZIP code 77002 to try it yourself. Consumers in Houston have over 300 plans to choose from, with prices ranging from 4.5 cents to 14.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. There are 34 plans offering 100 percent renewable energy.

Passing AB206 short-circuits this choice. It’d be like saying you can have anything you want for breakfast as long as eggs make up 50 percent of your meal.

Some choice.

But if renewable energy is everything its supporters claim, why are they afraid of free and open competition? If renewable energy really is cheaper than other forms of energy, you won’t need a mandate to make people buy it.

You’ll need to keep them from buying too much.

AB206 supporters also made clumsy attempts to tie increasing the renewable portfolio standard to Memorial Day. A couple of supporters urged politicians to pass it to prevent more blood for oil.

“I know people who have lost limbs in convoys who were hit by IEDs,” said Sen. Pat Spearman, D-North Las Vegas. “When you talk about our dependence on oil and fossil fuels, every time that will grab me at my heart.”

Waving the bloody shirt on this issue is inappropriate. It also cuts both ways. How many deaths should we attribute to former President Barack Obama for blocking domestic oil production?

If renewable energy did everything its supporters claim, Nevada wouldn’t need to hike its renewable portfolio standard to increase demand for renewables. Their insistance on a mandate shows that they don’t trust the claims they make about their own product.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Nevada section each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Contact him at or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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