Lawmakers support renewables, energy efficiency |

Lawmakers support renewables, energy efficiency

Associated Press Writer
Brad Horn/Nevada Appeal Sen. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, speaks to Sen. Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas, during a Senate Government Affairs work session at the Nevada State Legislature on Friday.

Nevadans who buy energy-efficient houses will get big tax breaks under a proposal that won unanimous approval Friday in a key Senate committee.

Senate Commerce and Labor Chairman Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, said the goal of SB437 is to help Nevada become a leader in renewable energy, and ease its dependence on out-of-state energy producers. Nevada is already producing more solar power per capita than any other state, he said.

Under the bill, consumers “are going to see a greater chance of stability in their rates, and a greater chance of taking spikes out of energy prices,” said Townsend.

The bill offers 10-year property tax breaks of up to 50 percent for home buyers who purchase houses that meet national “green building” standards. In previous hearings, builders who make such homes said that those tax breaks could add up to $30,000 over 10 years. Some facilities that produce renewable energy also would get the tax cuts.

The committee amended those tax breaks Friday, ruling out a break on certain property taxes that goes to schools.

The proposal also includes regulatory changes for natural gas, and requires utility companies to set their rates quarterly, rather than annually.

The bill also requires home sellers to do an energy audit on a building before they sell it, and mandates that real estate brokers and salespeople be trained in energy efficiency standards.

Committee members voted to incorporate several measures from two other bills into SB437. Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, sponsored SB427, a bill to expand a program offering energy credits to solar power generators, and create similar programs for homeowners who produce wind or water power.

Under current law, only customer-generators that produce 150 kilowatts or less can participate. Titus’ proposal changes that limit to 1000 kilowatts.