Lost in transmission

A clean energy legislative recap

State Office of Energy director Stacey Crowley presents to green building professionals.

State Office of Energy director Stacey Crowley presents to green building professionals.

Photo By Kat Kerlin

For more information about energy in Nevada and particular bills visit the Nevada State Office of Energy website at http://energy.state.nv.us, and the Nevada Legislature website at www.leg.state.nv.us.

Restrictions on wind and solar installations, changes for energy auditors, and transmission line challenges were just some of the energy-related issues addressed during Nevada’s 2011 legislative session.

It was also the first full session witnessed by Stacey Crowley, new director of the Nevada State Office of Energy. Last week, for a joint meeting between the local U.S. Green Building Council chapter and Sunrise Sustainable Resources, she gave a room full of green building and renewable energy professionals a rundown of some bills that may affect their work.

One that raised some eyebrows in this crowd was Assembly Bill 122, which says that while a governing body can’t keep a property owner from using a wind or solar energy system, it can create a “reasonable restriction or requirement … relating to the appearance, height, location, noise or safety of a system” for obtaining wind or solar energy. One gentleman in the audience, clearly disturbed by the bill, asked Crowley if it trickled down to CC&Rs—Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions that dictate how homeowners associations operate. Then, he asked, “Who got that through?”

The bill’s sole sponsor was Pete Livermore, R-Carson City. Crowley said CC&Rs could be considered a local jurisdiction, and that the bill left it up to governing bodies to define what was considered a reasonable restriction.

And with AB 432, energy auditors now need to register and get their license through the Real Estate Division, rather than through the state energy office. The bill also establishes requirements for what they should include in an audit, requires the director of the Office of Energy to issue certificates to homeowners who complete audits, and makes conducting energy audits without a license a misdemeanor.

Crowley described a tax incentive program for certain green building projects. Depending on the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) certification points achieved, they may receive a partial property tax abatement of up to 35 percent .

Nevada has also adopted the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code, which established minimum design and construction requirements for energy efficiency. Crowley says this could be a big deal for rural communities that currently have a minor or no building code.

“I think we should see some great energy savings in the state because of that,” said Crowley.

She also touched on Nevada’s efforts toward creating transmission lines that would allow the state to export energy, particularly to states like California and Arizona. Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoed AB 416, which among its many facets included allowing NV Energy to increase utility rates to pay for transmission lines to other states. Third parties have since said they may be willing to build the lines and that AB 416 could have given NV Energy an unfair advantage. Crowley said the Nevada State Office of Energy is meeting with officials in California to determine how Nevada could export energy to them. She also said the nonprofit Nevada Energy Assistance Corporation is “working to develop a business case for an export market” by studying three transmission corridors for export.

“Nevada’s load growth is essentially flat and will be for the foreseeable future,” said Crowley. “So how to grow? We need to export.”