|Select Economic and Energy Data†||Value||State Rank|
|Real Gross Domestic Product, per capita||$39,687||14th highest|
|Gasoline Price, per gallon||$2.92||9th highest|
|Electricity Price, per kWh||10.35¢||15th highest|
Nevada has moderately expensive energy prices, 5 percent above the national average. More than two-thirds of Nevada’s electricity is generated from natural gas, contributing to the state’s moderately expensive prices. Coal, an inexpensive energy source, provides about one fifth of Nevada’s electricity production and helps to moderate statewide prices. Despite the state’s solar power potential, solar contributes negligibly to the state’s electricity supply.
Nevada has few fossil fuel resources. The state uses natural gas delivered from Utah and other Rocky Mountain states and coal imported from Arizona and Utah. Nevada is one of the few states that produce electricity from geothermal with its production second to that of California. Hoover Dam on the Colorado River also provides hydroelectric power, as the second largest operating power plant in Nevada. Hydroelectricity and geothermal power together supply over 10 percent of the state’s electricity.
Regulatory Impediments to Affordable Energy
Although affordable energy is a vital component of a healthy economy, regulations frequently increase energy costs. Regulations imposed in the name of reducing carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions are especially costly. Carbon dioxide is a natural byproduct of the combustion of all carbon-containing fuels, such as natural gas, petroleum, coal, wood, and other organic materials. Today, there is no cost-effective way to capture the carbon dioxide output of the combustion of these fuels, so any regulations that limit carbon dioxide emissions will either limit the use of natural gas, petroleum, and coal, or dramatically increase their prices.
Below are some facts about Nevada’s regulatory environment that are likely to affect increase the cost of energy or the cost of using energy. Nevada has thus far avoided some of the costly energy policies other states are implementing.
- Nevada does not cap greenhouse gas emissions.
- Nevada is an observer of the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), a regional agreement among some American governors and Canadian premiers to target greenhouse gas reductions. The central component of this agreement is the eventual enactment of a cap-and-trade scheme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. As an observer of the WCI, Nevada would not be bound to agreements made by WCI members.
- Nevada requires utilities to provide 25 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2025.[i] In 2005, Assembly Bill 3 amended Nevada’s renewable portfolio standard to allow efficiency as a method of compliance.[ii] The contribution from energy efficiency measures is capped at one-quarter of the total standard.
- Nevada does not require gasoline to be mixed with renewable fuels. However, Nevada requires the Las Vegas metropolitan areas to use a “Clean Burning Gasoline Blend” and both the Las Vegas and Reno metropolitan areas to use oxygenated motor fuels during the winter months.[iii]
- Nevada does not impose automobile fuel economy standards similar to California’s, which include attempts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new vehicles.
- Nevada requires new residential and commercial buildings to meet energy efficiency standards. Residential and commercial buildings must comply with the 2003 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) in jurisdictions that have not adopted another standard.[iv] The IECC, developed by the International Code Council, is a model code that mandates certain energy efficiency standards. State executive agencies are required to reduce grid-based energy purchases for state-owned buildings by 20 percent by 2015.[v]
- Nevada does not impose state-based appliance efficiency standards, but does impose efficiency standards for general purpose lights. Assembly Bill 178, enacted in 2007, requires lights to provide 25 lumens per watt of electricity from 2012 to 2015, with a more stringent standard to be developed and implemented by 2016.[vi]
- Nevada does not allow utilities to “decouple” revenue from the sale of electricity and natural gas. Some states decouple revenue from actual sales, allowing utilities to increase their revenue by selling less electricity and natural gas.
† Data Sources: Real GDP per capita 2008: Bureau of Economic Analysis, News Release: GDP by State (June 2, 2009), http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/regional/gdp_ state/gsp_newsrelease.htm; Unemployment: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Regional and State Employment and Unemployment–February 2010 (Mar. 10, 2010); Gasoline Prices: American Automobile Association, AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report (Mar. 30, 2010); Electricity Prices: Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly, Table 5.6.B., Average Retail Price of Electricity, (March 15, 2010), http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/table5_6_b.html; Electricity Generation Data: Energy Information Administration, Electricity Generation 2009, http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epa/generation_state_mon.xls.
[i] Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Renewables Portfolio Standards in the United States, http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/ems/reports/lbnl-154e.pdf.
[ii] A.B. 3 (Nev. 2005), http://www.leg.state.nv.us/22ndSpecial/bills/AB/AB3_EN.pdf.
[iii] Energy Information Administration, Nevada, Apr. 8, 2010, http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/state/state_energy_profiles.cfm?sid=NV.
[iv] Building Codes Assistance Project, Code Status: Nevada, http://bcap-energy.org/node/81.
[v] Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, Nevada State Energy Reduction Plan, http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/incentive.cfm?Incentive_Code=NV13R&re=0&ee=1.
[vi] Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, Nevada Luminous Efficacy Standards for General Purpose Lights, http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/incentive.cfm?Incentive_Code=NV14R&re=0&ee=1.