Energy policy in Nevada
Energy • Environment • Fracking • Public education • Higher education • School choice • Charter schools • Public pensions • State budget and finances • Taxes • Voting • Ballot access • Redistricting
- 1 Energy overview
- 2 Energy policy
- 3 In the news
- 4 See also
- 5 External links
- 6 References
Energy policy in Nevada depends on geography, natural energy resources, how electricity is generated, how much energy consumers use, politics and the influence of groups such as environmental and industry organizations. Decisions by policymakers, such as state and local governments, utilities and regulatory agencies, affect all citizens economically and environmentally, and are generally geared toward providing reliable, affordable energy. The cost of energy affects not only home heating and electricity bills, and thus disposable income, but also economic growth, including jobs, investment and the cost of doing business in the state.
How energy is produced and consumed also has an impact on the environment and pollution. Energy policy in Nevada, and many other states, focuses on decreasing emissions and dependence on fossil fuels by increasing energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy. As the infrastructure for producing and delivering renewable energy sources is not as advanced as it is for energy generation from traditional sources, these policies often require subsidies to make the produced energy affordable, and their effects are difficult to measure.
Energy policy involves trade-offs between providing an affordable, consistent energy supply on the one hand, and limiting pollution and protecting the environment, on the other. How states attempt to balance these two differs between states, and often boils down to costs to consumers versus costs to the environment. This article provides general energy information about the state as the context within which energy policy is made, as well as information about major legislation and public and private groups that play a role in setting energy policy in the state.
Below are quick facts about Nevada’s energy climate. Nevada
- is a net electricity importer.
- has a fossil fuel in the form of crude oil.
- has renewable energy in the form of geothermal, solar, hydroelectric and wind.
- ranks 2nd in the nation for geothermal production only behind California.
- ranks among the top ten states in installing solar PV nationally and per capita.
- has the world’s first hybrid solar PV-geothermal plant, which mixes peaking solar and base load geothermal generation.
- mandates that by year 2025, 25 percent of electricity be supplied from renewable sources.
- per capita consumption is well below the national average.
- natural gas supplies two-thirds of the state's electricity generation.
- has one of the lowest petroleum consumption levels ranking it in the lowest among the states.
- almost half of its renewable energy comes from geothermal resources.
- transportation is the largest energy-consuming sector in the state.
Available energy resources
Nevada produces very little oil, which is its only producing traditional energy resource. This lack of traditional energy resources means Nevada is a net energy importer, bringing in all the coal, natural gas and most petroleum consumed in the state.
Nevada has renewable energy resources that contributed 51.4 trillion BTU of energy production in 2011, primarily from geothermal energy and hydroelectric power. A National Historic Landmark, the Hoover Dam supplies energy to Nevada, Arizona and California. The state also has great potential for solar and wind energy. Nevada has multiple large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal projects. The state ranked in the top ten states nationally for installed solar PV capacity and installed capacity per capita in 2011. In addition, it has the world's first hybrid geothermal-solar PV plant. Wind potential mostly resides along ridgelines across the state. Nevada's first commercial wind farm opened in 2012. Commercial wind farms are in development.
Consumption and prices
|Energy consumption in Nevada|
Transportation Residential Industrial Commercial
|Other State Energy Policy Pages|
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As shown in the pie chart in 2011 almost one third of Nevada’s energy was for transportation, one quarter each was used in the industrial and residential sectors, and the remainder was used mostly in the commercial sector. Most of the energy used in the state is in the form of natural gas (used primarily for home heating and air conditioning), followed by petroleum to support Las Vegas and Reno’s tourism. Generally the price of gasoline in the state tracks above the national average.
According to the EIA's February 2014 report, the federal excise tax is 18.40 cents/gallon of gasoline and 24.40 cents/gallon of diesel fuel. In addition to that, Nevada collects a total tax of 33.1 cents on every gallon of gasoline, gasohol diesel fuel, which ranks it at the 12th highest in the United States.
The table below compares Nevada’s consumption and spending for energy, as well as prices for gas and electricity, and carbon emissions to those of Arizona, which has similar per capita income, resources and consumption needs because of climate and geography. Also given are the U.S. averages and the state rankings. All rankings are from highest to lowest, so, for example:
- Nevada’s rank of 42nd in per capita consumption means that per capita income is similar to Arizona, which has a ranking of 44th.
- Likewise, Nevada ranks 40th lower than the national average for carbon emissions, and lower than Arizona, which ranked 23rd, 17 places higher than Nevada.
- Per capita energy consumption in Nevada (at 42nd) is similar in Arizona (at 44th), and per capita spending in Nevada is similar to Arizona with 49th and 50th, respectively.
- These states are different in terms of natural gas prices. Nevada pays an average amount ranking 25th while Arizona pays a much high price, at fifth in the nation.
- Nevada and Arizona have different ranks for electricity prices; Nevada is ranked higher at 16th while Arizona is ranked slightly below average at 28th.
The higher price of electricity (16th) may result from the fact that natural gas and coal are consumed more than renewables. This above average price may be because Nevada has a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) that requires minimum energy production from renewable energy resources. The standard mandates an increasing share of solar power in Nevada's renewable energy mix. By 2015, 25 percent of electricity sold in the state must come from a renewable sources.
|Consumption and Expenditures Comparisons Summary|
|Figure||U.S. Rank*||Figure||U.S. Rank*||Totals|
|Population||2.8 million||35||6.6 million||15||313.9 million|
|Per Capita Income Average||$37,361||38||$35,979||42||$42,693|
|Total Consumption||633 trillion BTU||39||1,432 trillion BTU||26||97,301 quadrillion BTU|
|Per Capita Energy Consumption||233 million BTU||42||221 million BTU||44||312 million BTU|
|Total Spending on Energy||$9,671 million||36||$22,465 million||24||$1,394,088 million|
|Per Capita Spending on Energy||$3,555||49||$3,474||50||$4,474|
|Price of Residential Natural Gas, dollar per thousand cubic feet||$10.57||25||$15.01||5||$12.48|
|Price of Electricity, cents per kWh||13.07||16||11.06||28||12.31|
|Total Carbon Dioxide Emissions, million metric tons (2010)||38.1||40||95.9||23||5,631|
|*Rank is from highest to lowest.|
In Nevada natural gas is used to heat 61.6 percent of homes. Electricity is the next most common home heating source, followed by LPG, other sources and fuel oil.
- See also: State Energy Rankings to compare all 50 states
|Consumption of energy for heating homes in Nevada|
|Source||Nevada 2011||U.S. average 2011|
|Liquid Petroleum Gases (LPG)||2.9%||5%|
Production and transmission
Nevada produced 2,573 BTU of energy in 2011. Of that almost almost 70 percent came from natural gas and nearly 13 percent from crude oil. About 12 percent came from what the U.S. Energy Information Administration classifies as 'other,' which is "assumed to equal consumption of all renewable energies except biofuels."
|Energy production by type in Nevada, 2011|
|% of State||% of USA|
In the 2013 period, Nevada produced about 25,000 barrels of crude oil, a relatively small amount. Nevada imports most of its fuel from Utah and California refineries. This state is one of the lowest petroleum consumers on a per capita basis. Most of the petroleum is used by transportation and the remaining is consumed by the industrial sector. A small fraction of fuel is used by residents for home heating.
‘Other’ renewable energies make up 96 percent of Nevada’s energy production. Nearly half of that energy comes from geothermal resources, and Nevada is one of few states with this resource available in large quantities. Hoover Dam provides another substantial part of the renewable energy supply, enough to serve 1.3 million people. The annual average from 1999 to 2008 was around 4.2 billion kilowatt-hours.
Nevada produces a small amount of natural gas and imports the rest through interstate pipelines. Utah and Wyoming are the core providers of natural gas to the state. Secondary sources come from Arizona’s pipeline that connects Texas and New Mexico and the Malin Trading Hub in Oregon and Idaho. Nevada has no coal mining. Trucks and railroads from Utah and Wyoming supply Nevada’s three coal-fired electricity generating stations.
The Nevada Public Utilities Commission reports regulation of 30 utility sellers in Nevada. Ten of these are electric utilities, one natural gas, three liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), two geothermal, and thirteen alternative energy suppliers.
|Where electricity comes from in Nevada|
|Type||Amount generated (MWh)||% of state**||% of U.S.**|
|Total net electricity generation||2,785,000||100%||0.07%|
|**Note: Because the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) does not include all of a state's energy production in these figures, the EIA totals do not equal 100 percent. Instead, we have generated our own percentages.|
- See also: Fracking in Nevada
Energy policy is made, executed and influenced by many organizations, both public and private, and is codified in the laws and regulations of the state. Each state’s energy policy involves trade-offs in which energy production and prices are weighed against environmental concerns and efficiency. Nevada has been below average regarding energy efficiency and renewable energy use. Program services, resource planning and funding have grown rapidly since the established renewable energy requirements in Nevada. Nevada's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) mandates that utilities obtain 25 percent of electricity from renewable resources by 2025. Utilities can meet part of the requirement by increasing energy efficiency. Most of the growth from the state's renewable energy mix is required to come from solar power.
Nevada ranked 33rd on the Energy Efficiency Scorecard produced by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. There are differing estimates about the economic impact of these mandates in terms of costs that may affect prices and jobs, as well as the impact on the environment and pollution. Thus, for example, there are many new studies of what is called the "rebound effect" which refers to the fact that "some of the theoretically estimated gains in energy efficiency will be eroded as consumers consume additional goods and services."
- Nevada’s Electric Restructuring Legislation (1997) included a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) provided by the Nevada Public Utilities Commission. A minimum percentage of the total electricity sold under the standard must meet eligible renewable sources. The minimum requirement continues to gradually increase by two percent annually. As of the 2009, the requirement increased to 25 percent by 2025. Solar energy requirements, which must be met by 2016, were also included, mandating utilities to satisfy six percent of portfolio requirement. Qualified renewable resources include biomass, wind, geothermal energy, specific hydropower, and waste tires.
- The Energy Policy Act, Section 368 (2005) was passed to create a system of corridors for power lines and pipelines across the western states. A settlement was reached in 2012 between federal agencies and conservation organizations. The act aims to facilitate the growth of renewable energy projects, avoid sensitive environmental regions, and lessen proliferation of dispersed right-of ways (ROWs). The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to guide the partnerships through the goals of the settlement.
- Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Acquisition Requirement (Nevada Administrative Code 48-A.010-486A.250) requires government fleets in cities of populations of 100,000 or more to acquire AFV or U.S. Environmental Protection Agency certified Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV's). Of new vehicles purchased, 90 percent must be AFVs or ULEVs. Operation on solely alternative fuels is required of all AFV vehicles, buses and heavy-duty vehicles. Idle reduction, parts and equipment, maintenance, driving behavior, fleet rightsizing and system efficiency are included in the act as methods to reduce fuel use.
- 350 Megawatt Requirement (NV Energy) (2013) requires Nevada Energy Company to retire 800 megawatts (MW) of coal-fired electric generating plants by December 2019. Through this phasing out, cleaner facilities will become mandatory. Nevada Energy Company must purchase, construct, or acquire 900 MW worth of production capacity, and 350 MW of the total must come from renewable energy resources.
- Nevada Statute 704.310 allows the sale of surplus energy as a public utility through light, heat or power sources by an individual as approved by the Nevada Public Utilities Commission. Associations, corporations, companies, or any person which is not engaged in business as a public utility, and which does not produce, deliver, furnish or sell to others lighter, power or heat, has the authority to do what they wish with surplus energy. The commission has the right to ascertain whether allow an individual to sell, furnish, or produce utilities independently or as a public utility.
Government agencies and committees
- Within the Nevada State Legislature, the Nevada State Senate has a committee that reviews energy issues, the Labor and Energy Committee and the House Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Mining Committee. Nevada legislator regulation of public utilities information and general explanations of the state’s energy policies can be found at the state website.
- The Nevada Public Utilities Commission regulates investor-owned utilities and ensures their compliance with laws enacted by the Nevada Legislature. The Commission's basic duties are, as defined in NRS 704.001 Legislature, to provide impartial and fair regulation of public utilities, provide efficient, prudent, economic, safe and reliable service and operation of public utilities, and to balance the interests of shareholders and customers by providing the opportunity to earn a sound return on their investments while providing just rates.
- The Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy (GOE) represents Nevada's state office of energy. It oversees programs required through energy legislature to meet the goals of the office. Their mission is to see that the development of the state’s energy resources is in balance with local community economic needs, and that Nevada ranks in the top of renewable energy production, conservation, exploration and efficiency. Statutory Authority NRS 701 and 701A ensure a reliable and sustainable clean energy plan in cooperation with local, regional and federal partners.
- The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is responsible for managing and protecting the state's natural resources and providing "highest quality of life for Nevada’s citizens and visitors." The department is managed by the Director of Conservation and Natural Resources. The department has 11 offices, divisions or boards it manages.
- Environment Nevada is a citizen-based environmental advocacy organization that strives for increasing renewable energy and becoming independent of traditional energy sources. The organization reports on issues such as open toxic uranium mines, renewable energy and oil independence among many other topics. The organization researches issues and educates communities about environmental dangers.
- The Center For Energy Research (CER) is located on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus (UNLV). The center focuses on research, education, and information exchange in energy topics. Topics are focused on arid regions' energy systems, advanced cooling concepts, nuclear waste issues, and solar energy utilization schemes. Many students have been employed by the center, including other college systems and laboratories of Nevada.
- Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) is a think tank focused on finding private solutions to Nevada's public issues, as well as the West and the nation. They focus on fiscal policy and education in energy among other topics. They share the possible and current effects of new state government plans through commentaries, studies, press releases, news and articles in Nevada Journal.
In the news
This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Nevada+Energy+Policy"
- All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.
- Nevada Profile at the U.S. Energy Information Administration
- Nevada Profile at National Association of State Energy Officials
- Nevada Profile at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy
- Nevada Profile at U.S. Department of Energy Alternative Fuel Data Center
- Nevada Profile at the Institute for Energy Research
- Nevada Profile at the U.S. Energy Information Administration
- National Association of State Energy Officials, "Nevada," accessed March 9, 2014
- These figures come from the U.S. Environmental Information Administration State Profiles and Energy Estimates, Nevada Overview. Statistics for population and per capita income are for the year 2012; consumption and spending estimates are for 2011; and prices are for October 2013. Updated pricing information is available on the state's EIA profile. Prices will be updated on this page biannually.
- U.S Energy Information Administration, "Nevada Overview," accessed February 22, 2014
- U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Nevada Profile Analysis," December 18, 2013
- U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Nevada Renewable Electricity Profile 2010," March 8, 2012," accessed February 22, 2014
- This chart depicts the state's energy consumption as reported by the EIA for 2011. Click the image to enlarge.
- To compare current gasoline prices in Nevada to the U.S average, go to GasBuddy.com
- U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Petroleum Marketing Monthly," February 2014," accessed February 14, 2014
- [The ranking comes from the Tax Foundation website http://taxfoundation.org/article/state-gasoline-tax-rates-2009-2013 website," accessed February 14, 2014]
- U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Arizona Profile Analysis," December 18, 2013," accessed February 22, 2014
- C Fact, "Costs of Nevada renewable energy mandate," June 4, 2013," accessed February 22, 2014
- U.S. Energy Information Administration, “State Energy Data System, Production,” accessed February 22, 2014
- One barrel of oil produces about 19 gallons of gas
- U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Frequently Asked Questions," May 30, 2013, accessed March 18, 2014
- U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Nevada State Energy Profile," accessed February 22, 2014
- U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, "Hoover Dam FAQ," accessed March 15, 2014
- U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Nevada State Energy Profile," accessed February 22, 2014
- Public Utilities Commission, "Electric, Natural Gas, LP Gas, and Alternate Sellers of Natural Gas Lists," accessed February 23, 2014
- These figures come from the EIA State Profiles and Energy Estimates U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Nevada Overview," accessed February 22, 2014
- Renewable Energy World, "Nevada Utility to Shut out Coal, Embrace Renewables," accessed March 15, 2014
- According to a report called "The Status of Renewable Electricity Mandates in the States," by the free-market Institute for Energy Research, the cost of electricity in states with RPS were on average 38 percent higher in 2010 than in states without a RPS.
- Institute for Energy Research, "The Status of Renewable Electricity Mandates in the States," accessed March 24, 2014
- Manhattan Institute, "The High Cost of Renewable-Energy Mandates," February 2012
- American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, "State Energy Efficiency Policy Database," accessed February 27, 2014
- International Risk Governance Council, "The Rebound Effect: Implications of Consumer Behavior for Robust Energy Policies," accessed March 3, 2014
- Scientific American, "How Bad Is the Rebound from Energy Efficiency Efforts?," May 21, 2013, accessed March 3, 2014
- Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency, "Nevada Renewable Portfolio Standard," accessed February 23, 2014
- Nevada Governor's Office of Energy, "West-Wide Energy Corridors," accessed February 23, 2014
- U.S. Department of Energy, "Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Acquisition Requirement," November 12, 2013
- U.S. Energy Department, "350 Megawatt Requirement (NV Energy)," November 12, 2013
- JUSTIA US Law, "2013 Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 704-Regulation of Public Utilities Generally," accessed February 23, 2014
- Nevada Legislature, "Senate Commerce, Labor and Energy," accessed February 23, 2014
- Nevada Legislature, "Nevada State Assembly," accessed March 15, 2014
- Public Utilities Commission of Nevada, "About," accessed February 23, 2014
- Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy, "About," accessed February 23, 2014
- Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, "About Us," accessed October 16, 2011
- Environmental Nevada, About Environment Nevada, accessed February 22, 2014
- Environment Nevada, "Issues," accessed March 15, 2014
- University of Nevada, Las Vegas, "Center for Energy Research," accessed February 22, 2014
- Nevada Policy Research Institute, "Energy," accessed February 22, 2014
State of Nevada
Carson City (capital)
|State executive officers||
Governor | Lieutenant Governor | Attorney General | Secretary of State | Controller | State Treasurer | Superintendent of Public Instruction | Commissioner of Insurance | Director of Agriculture | Director of Conservation and Natural Resources | Director of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation | Chairman of Public Utilities Commission |