The Nevada legislature passed SB 123, which will ultimately shut down the Reid Gardner coal plant and provide relief for the Moapa Band of Paiutes living next to the facility. The bill also likely locks Nevada into natural gas investments, however. Although amended since the last time I reviewed the text, the bill that passed the legislature yesterday still requires 550 MW of energy from "other electrical generating plants," in addition to the 350 MW of new renewable energy generation required by the bill. That 550 MW is likely to be generated by new natural gas facilities, and previous iterations of the bill made it clear that the "other electrical" generation would be natural gas.
It is not a surprise that this passed with bi-partisan support in Nevada given that this bill is a win-win situation for industry. The bill provides Nevada utilities with a fresh excuse to invest in more infrastructure to support its central station model, including natural gas pipelines and transmission lines. The legislation will also continue to buoy an abusive relationship between renewable energy and fossil fuels that is encouraged by utility companies -- marrying natural gas facilities to new renewable energy. Utilities claim natural gas is a necessary "bridge," but once they invest millions of dollars in extraction, pipelines, and power plants, how long do we have to live with the bridge? All of this typically results in more money for utility companies, more fracking, and more central station renewable energy facilities on wildlands.
That abusive "bridge" relationship can be broken by local clean energy investments that provide more geographic diversity in our energy sources and reduce dependence on central station infrastructure, hopefully breaking the back of a utility paradigm that continues to invest heavily in fossil fuels and the destruction of our landscapes.
You can read SB 123 below.