In 1997, Nevada lawmakers moved to require the state’s largest electric utilities to acquire power from renewable resources, such as geothermal, wind, solar, biomass, landfill gas, and waste heat recovery. Originally the goal was for 1% of the energy utilities sell to customers to come from these sources by 2010. In 2001 the state toughened the standard significantly, making the requirement 15% by 2013, and in 2005 lawmakers raised the bar again, requiring 20% by 2015.
The Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) has been fully supported by NV Energy (previously Sierra Pacific Resources) as responsible sustainable energy strategy for the state. Today, Nevada’s RPS requires NV Energy to supply at least 25% of retail energy sales from renewable sources by 2025; up to 25% can come from energy efficiency/ conservation and a minimum of 6% must come from solar sources. NV Energy has 1,240 MW currently under contract in its renewable energy portfolio, including new biomass/biogas projects, wasteheat and wind projects. NV Energy met the RPS in 2008, has met the solar energy requirement each year, and surpassed the RPS requirements in 2009 in northern Nevada but missed the mark in southern Nevada due to renewal project delays, cancellations or renewable energy under-production.
According to the Nevada Vision Stakeholder Group, September 2010 report, improved access to federal lands for renewable energy development could increase alternative energy production by 50% over the next 20-years. The proposed north-south transmission line will provide infrastructure access to the energy grid with geothermal resources from the north and solar from the south. Nevada already has a network of expertise including experienced renewable energy employees, engineering and training programs, and suppliers. Consequently, renewable energy plays a large role in job creation and workforce development, emergency preparedness and safety, innovation and entrepreneurship, all necessary for Nevada to be economically competitive.