Tag Archives: Clean Energy Project

Nevada’s Energy Future

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Debbie Donaldson (L) moderates a panel discussion on the future of green energy with Dr. Patricia “Pat” Spearman, Nat Hodgen, and Jessie Murray.

By Craig A. Ruark

Just before the opening of early voting, energy experts and elected officials told a pair of forums that ballot Question 3 presents a rare opportunity for both consumers and the industry to stake out winning positions for the future.

Question 3 would authorize the Nevada Legislature to “minimize regulations on the Energy Market and eliminate legal energy monopolies.” If approved by voters, it would have to be voted on again in 2018 before it could be implemented in 2023.

On October 19th, the Nevada Energy Star Partners Green Alliance held a panel discussion titled “Nevada’s Energy Future.” Debbie Donaldson, publisher of the Las Vegas Business Press, asked panelists Dr. Patricia “Pat” Spearman, Nevada Senator District 1; Nat Hodgen, executive director of the Southern Nevada Home Builders; and Jessie Murray, director of renewable energy projects for NV Energy, to describe the current energy environment and what we need to do to prepare for the future.

The three speakers, though diverse in their backgrounds, were part of the “New Energy Industry Task Force” that was initiated by Gov. Brian Sandoval and worked toward solutions to grid modernization, carbon emissions, distributed generation and storage, and clean energy sources.

Based on the Task Force’s research and discussions, several recommendations have been sent to the governor for the 2017 legislative session. In addition, a plan for grandfathering residential rooftop solar customers (those who were on-line or had applied to be part of the solar program as of Dec. 31, 2015), was approved by Governor Sandoval. It will take effect in December 2016 and expire November 30, 2036.

Senator Spearman said she is planning several bills for presentation during the 2017 legislative session.

“The technologies that we have right now and those that which are on the horizon are changing, literally, in a nanosecond,” she said. “We don’t have legislative policies in place to address the question about [energy] storage adequately. Because we don’t have policies in place that address an integrated energy system that customers want to go to.”  Spearman supports modifying the electrical grid to include distributive generation including geothermal and wind energy, and advocated for ‘out of the box’ thinking to prepare us for energy possibilities that are unthought of at this time.

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Rose McKinney-James, (L) moderates a panel discussion on ballot initiative Question 3 with Adam Kramer, John Hanger, Gary Aksamit, and Quentin Abramo, president of Faciliteq, representing small business.

On Oct. 20, Clean Energy Project, a non-profit organization, drew more than 100 people to the Switch Innevation Center in Las Vegas for a lunchtime session. The panel discussion was moderated by Rose McKinney-James, lobbyist and managing principal of Energy Works LLC, and included panel experts on distributive energy generation.

The topic title: “How will ballot initiative Question 3 ensure that clean energy development has a place in a well-regulated open market; and how will a restructured market ensure that all customers have the opportunity to access clean energy to power their homes and businesses?”

Adam Kramer, executive vice president of strategy for Switch, worked with environmental and consumer advocacy groups to develop the “Yes on Question 3” stance, answered: “The genesis of Question 3 is to deliver low-cost renewable energy to all Nevadans. As we begin talking about the restructuring and creation of a well-regulated open market, it is important that we do this in a way that is cognizant of the importance of renewables as well as the protection of all ratepayers here in Nevada.”

Switch along with MGM and Wynn Resorts have received approval from the Public Utilities Commission and to leave NV Energy’s grid. The Las Vegas Sands Corp. also filed an exit application that was approved by the PUC, but the company opted not to go forward.

John Hanger, an energy consultant and former secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, described this initiative from his perspective is “A huge opportunity for clean energy, but it is also an opportunity for customers.”

Hanger cautioned that there are two important pieces that must be in place both for clean energy and for consumers to make “the power of choice” option work:

  1. You need to have a real-time market monitor — ‘the cop on the beat’ of the retail and wholesale energy market to protect consumers. “The recent changes at FERC [Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] are important, but you also need a local cop,” said Hanger
  2. On the demand side of the market, the cleanest energy source is energy efficiency so if you empower consumers with smart meters and thermostats to control their demand, it will help their pocketbook and will also help the air quality and the environment.

Gary Aksamit, founder of Americans for Electricity Choice, offered a glimpse at what the market could look like after restructuring.

Using Texas as an example, Aksamit suggested that consumers check out www.TexasPowerToChoose.org, a clearinghouse database of all of the retail power providers in the state of Texas and competing for consumers. (Readers can put in the zip code 75094 to see how the site works.)

“Once into the website,” said Aksamit. “You are going to find between 150 and 250 offers for your business.”

The consumers in Texas have the opportunity to choose everything from 100 percent renewable energy to energy based on the lowest cost per kilowatt hour. Consumers are also able to lock in rates for whatever period they choose, with, of course, a penalty for early cancellation.

This type of open market program, according to Aksamit, allows the consumer to choose the type of power and the price point that fits their budget and lifestyle. The drawback to this program is with all the choices afforded to the consumers, not everyone is going to have the knowledge or want to take the time to wade through all of the options. In that case, many consumers may just accept what the local utility is offering and call it good.

The idea behind Question 3 is to offer choice to those consumers that want choice and to begin to prepare Nevada for a progressive energy future. That’s a planning process that Senator Spearman stated “must start now.”

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Some Nevadans applaud Obama’s clean energy plan

Countless studies have shown that when it comes to the man-made effects on “climate change,” most average individuals feel that there is little they can do to reverse the damage caused by big corporations and electric companies. That is exactly why President Barack Obama’s “clean energy plan,” released Aug. 3 by the Environmental Protection Agency, is such a significant policy announcement.

By 2030, the plan aims to cut power generation plant carbon emissions 32 percent below 2005 levels. In a speech announcing the plan, Obama said, “We are the first generation to feel the impacts of climate change, and the last generation to be able to do something about it.”

In this plan, each state is tasked with coming up with its own program to control emissions within its borders and have until Aug. 3 to file that plan with the EPA.

Obama called taking a stand against climate change a “moral obligation,” brushing off the notion that the plan is a “War on Coal” that will kill jobs. Instead, he said, he is reinvesting in areas of the U.S. known as “coal country.” However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, a huge coal-producing state, is calling on the nation’s governors to refuse to comply with the EPA regulations. The attorney general of West Virginia has also stated that he intends to challenge the plan; more than a dozen states also are said to be preparing legal challenges.

An inquiry to Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt regarding the clean energy plan resulted in an email reply from a spokesperson stating, “The AG’s office will be reviewing the rules. Consistent with our office policy, we don’t comment on future litigation plans.”

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has long been a supporter of clean energy projects and, since taking office in 2011, the state has approved 21 tax abatement applications, which include large-scale solar PV, solar thermal, biomass, geothermal, and wind projects throughout the state and is not expected to follow suit with other Republican governors.

In Las Vegas, the EPA announcement has generated a flood of emails from environmental activists and support groups such as the Sierra Club.

The Clean Energy Project Inc., a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that lobbies for a clean energy economy, has for the past couple of years been active in encouraging local businesses to reduce their carbon footprint by pledging to reduce energy consumption.

During a clean energy plan support rally at Las Vegas City Hall on Aug. 3, Jennifer Taylor, executive director of Clean Energy Project, stated that, “Nevada’s clean power plan will propel the state to the next level of renewable energy development, green investment, and job growth, and continue Nevada’s national clean energy leadership. Nevada’s climate, location and past bipartisan policy efforts have well positioned our state to not only provide Nevada homegrown, affordable renewable energy, but also to attract additional renewable energy projects that will define the regional market and generate energy for exportation to neighboring states.”

Also speaking at the rally was James Woodruff, vice president of state and local government affairs for First Solar, a company that builds and operates utility-scale solar energy projects around the U.S. In Nevada, First Solar is producing 200 megawatts of power in four locations, has another 558 megawatts under construction, and is in the development stage for an additional 500 megawatts, including the recently announced Switch Station Solar Project at Apex.

The targets for Nevada and other states are based on the pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per megawatt hour of generated electricity. But despite the amount of solar and thermal energy being produced and on the drawing board in Nevada, the state is projected to be behind the curve on meeting its annual target reductions until 2026 when the state is expected to produce 582 pounds of CO2 emissions to slide under the EPA goal of 677. By 2030, it is projected that Nevada will be below the EPA goal of 647 with a production of 528 pounds of CO2 emissions.

In Washington, political pundits are likening the clean energy plan to Obamacare and expect this to play out in the courts for the next several years.

– See more at: http://businesspress.vegas/some-nevadans-applaud-obamas-clean-energy-plan#sthash.dYmNFXqX.dpuf