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BCSE In Action

June 11, 2015

Contact: Zoe Berkery, Business Council for Sustainable Energy
Email: [email protected]
Office: (202) 785-0507

Contact: Ethan Zindler, Bloomberg New Energy Finance
Email: [email protected]
Office: (202) 416-3466

Report: Nevada Has the Tools to Meet EPA Power Plant Standards
Natural Gas, Renewables, Declining Coal Can Help State Comply with EPA Clean Power Plan

LAS VEGAS, NV – A rise in natural gas-fired power generation, a doubling of renewable energy capacity and a declining reliance on coal are all changes well underway in Nevada as the state looks to comply with the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) draft plan to cut CO2 emissions. Those are the findings of a new short study from energy market research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE).

The report ranked Nevada third in the US for the percent of its electricity generated by natural gas and seventh in the US for the percent generated by renewables. BNEF found that natural gas plays a major role in Nevada’s electricity generation mix, has generated roughly 2/3 of the state’s energy every year since 2008, and accounted for 70% of all generating capacity in the state in 2013. BNEF also noted that Nevada doubled its renewable energy generating capacity between 2008 and 2013, to 2.2 GW, driven by new geothermal, solar and wind capacity.

EPA’s draft Clean Power Plan tasks Nevada with reducing its ‘adjusted’ emission rate by 35% by 2030 – the 23rd most stringent of such cuts in the US, under the proposed regulations. EPA is expected to release its final rule in late July or early August.

“Nevada's power sector has seen significant changes since 2008, and now ranks above average among US states for generating electricity from natural gas and renewable sources like geothermal, solar and wind,” said Nathan Serota, BNEF Analyst for US Power and Clean Energy Economics and co-author of the report. “These changes are set to continue, driven by continued coal retirements, low natural gas prices and renewable energy economics.”

“Nevada has a tremendous opportunity to continue and expand its leadership on sustainable energy as it implements EPA’s Clean Power Plan,” said Paul Bertram, Director of Environment, Sustainability and Government Affairs for Kingspan Insulated Panels, which counts Nellis Air Force Base and Dairy Farms of America among its Nevada customers. “Nevada can be a leader on energy efficiency, which offers a low-cost, ready-to-go option for reducing demand for electricity and saving consumers money. We look forward to continuing to grow our work in Nevada as the state works to reduce its pollution even further.”

“Nevada is the ideal location for utility-scale solar. It has great solar resource, skilled work force, access to transmission, and public policy support for solar development. Working with NV Energy, the Southern Nevada Paiute Tribes, BLM, State and local governments, First Solar has developed 1.2GW of solar energy projects including fully operational projects in Primm and Boulder City, creating approximately 4.5 million work hours for Nevadans to date,” said Jim Woodruff, Vice President of State and Local Government for First Solar. “First Solar looks forward to working with our customers and policy makers to continue Nevada’s solar success story in the coming years.”

BNEF’s “State Energy Fact Sheet: Nevada,” is available http://bit.ly/1Kqi8em. BNEF’s report was developed in partnership with the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE).

“Nevada has a strong foundation of sustainable energy to support its implementation of EPA’s Clean Power Plan,” said Lisa Jacobson, President of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. “Thanks to Nevada’s affordable and growing supply of natural gas and renewables, along with the potential to boost existing energy efficiency programs, the state is well-placed to meet EPA’s targets while expanding affordable energy and attracting new investment and jobs.”

Additional findings from BNEF’s analysis include:

  • Coal Use is Declining in Nevada: Coal’s share of Nevada’s electricity generation mix fell by more than a third between 2008 and 2013, from 22% to 14% of the state’s generation. Over 500 MW of coal plants are slated to retire between 2015 and 2017.
  • Natural Gas Dominates Nevada’s Energy Mix: Nevada added 6.8 GW of natural gas capacity from 2000-2013, while the state retired 1.6 GW of coal capacity in the same period. BNEF expects natural gas prices to remain relatively low through 2017.
  • Renewables Are Growing & Getting Cost Competitive: BNEF found that utility-scale wind and solar PV are within striking distance of the cost of coal- and natural gas-fired capacity in Nevada, and are cheaper than coal (solar PV) and gas (onshore wind) after accounting for incentives. Nevada is also currently the 3rd-largest residential solar market in the US; residential solar PV “is arguably the fastest growing renewable technology in the state,” BNEF finds, with over 30MW of residential PV built through 2013 and even more added since then.
  • Efficiency Can Play a Larger Role: BNEF finds that “boosting energy efficiency represents an important area of opportunity for Nevada,” and “scaling up [energy efficiency] programs can not only play a critical role in helping the state meet its summer peak demand for electricity…but it can also lay the infrastructure necessary to return to historical levels of annual energy efficiency savings.”

Download the full press release.