Backers say the first thing voters need to know about Question 6, the renewable energy question on the November ballot, is it has nothing to do with Question 3 — energy choice.
“Question 3 is about who will provide your power in the future,” said Kyle Roerink, spokesman for backers of the initiative. “Question 6 is about what type of power you will receive from a provider.”
In a nutshell, Question 6 would require the state to get 50 percent of electric power from renewable sources by 2030. Roerink said Nevada is already getting about 20 percent of electric power from renewables. He said Nevada was one of the nation’s leaders in renewable sources but has fallen behind numerous other states.
Roerink said the last time Nevada passed an energy portfolio standard was in 2009.
“Now we don’t rank in the top 10 any more,” he said. “Maine, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California and Hawaii are all outpacing us. This would get one of the sunniest states in the nation, one of the most geothermal rich states in the nation back on track.”
He pointed out at the end of this year, the Ormat contract with NV Energy for power from the geothermal plant between Reno and Carson City will expire.
“Some of that energy is currently being used here but all that is going to be going to California.”
Roerink said Nevada spends more than $700 million a year on, “fuels that are fracked, mined and drilled in other states then brought into this state.”
“All we’re trying to do is say instead of spending all that money on dirty resources from other states, lets invest in our resources.”
He said it’s not a major cost issue because the cost of renewables “has fallen so drastically in recent years.”
“It’s cheaper to go with new renewables rather than existing infrastructure,” he said.
He said utility owners like Warren Buffet are retiring coal plants and not building new natural gas plants. Instead, Buffet is making major investments in renewables.
Asked why not let the free market decide, he said the marketplace already has and it’s for renewables.
“They wouldn’t make these investments unless it was good for shareholders, good for the companies and good for the bottom line.”
But Roerink said that doesn’t mean the Nevada Legislature and the governor will act — the reason for the ballot question.
“The problem with Nevada is we need an accountability measure,” he said.
To date, there has been no real Nevada opposition to the initiative per se. Roerink conceded some objected to putting the mandate into the state constitution, but, he said, the constitution is “a place for our values.”
“Clean air and clean water are very much a right and we have to do everything we can to uphold those rights,” he said.