by Elliot Gonzalez, environmental policy intern
The Nevada Legislature approved several measures during the 2019 80th Legislative Session aimed at conserving natural resources, limiting the use of water, and increasing energy efficiency statewide.
AB163 – Requires water suppliers and public utilities to submit: (1) a water loss audit and water conservation plan if they serve more than 3,300 customers; and (2) the amount of water delivered and billed alongside a water conservation plan for those who serve less than 3,300 customers. Moreover, all construction projects starting on or after January 1, 2020, as well as any building built after March 1, 1993 and renovated in the past 26 years that are placing toilets, showers, urinals, or faucets, must comply with the WaterSense program established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
AB95 – Allows the State Engineer or a court of competent jurisdiction the opportunity to restrict groundwater withdrawals from domestic wells down to 0.5-acre feet per year if: (1) average annual groundwater replenishment is not adequate to fit the needs of all permittees or vested-rights claimants; (2) the court or State Engineer complies with priority rights; and (3) the owner of the domestic well installs a water meter to record withdrawals from the well.
AB62 – Amends NRS 533.380 to allow the State Engineer to extend any beneficial-use construction project as he or she sees fit. However, they can only extend projects 5 years at a time. Furthermore, this bill states that State Engineer should adopt any regulation necessary to carry out these provisions and must provide a copy of these regulations to any person on request. Finally, the State Engineer must conduct a survey during 2019-20 interim to determine how other U.S. jurisdictions handle water construction project extensions.
SB140 – Requires the State Engineer to reserve at least 10 percent of remaining groundwater in a basin if said basin has not been committed for use by July 1, 2019. The groundwater reserved is not available for any use and the State Engineer is required to reject all applications for permits to appropriate water if the groundwater from the proposed source of supply has been reserved.
SB150 – County or city governments must develop a water resource plan that contains analysis of existing water demand in the community or expected water demand in the community based on projected growth. Additionally, these resource plans must identify all known sources of surface water, groundwater, and effluent that are physically and legally available for use in the community. Moreover, these governments are required to analyze whether or not these water resources identified are sufficient or not and, if not, then a plan must be made to obtain sufficient water.
SB236 – Allows an individual to sink or bore a replacement well on their own property without obtaining an additional permit so long as they already have a permit appropriating the water they are accessing and the site of the replacement well is located within 300 feet of the original diversion site stated on their original permit.
SB433 – Extends concurrent jurisdiction to investigate and arrest offenders on any land mass within 5 air miles from Lake Tahoe or Topaz Lake for certain prohibited conduct committed on those bodies of water. Furthermore, civil action will be taken under the jurisdiction of the State, California or Nevada, of which an officer, employee, agent, or political subdivision is from.
SB507 – Appropriates $200,000 from the State General Fund to the State Public Works Division for the support of the Marlette Lake Water System.
SCR 5 – Expresses support for the role of science in the Lake Tahoe Basin and recognizes the role of the Tahoe Bi-State Executive Committee and the Tahoe Science Advisory Council in guiding environmental preservation, protection, restoration and enhancement efforts in the Lake Tahoe Basin.
AB58 – NRS 407.0475 states that any individual whose conduct violates regulations within any park or recreational facility subject to jurisdiction by the Division of State Parks and refuses to comply with the regulation when requested to do so by certain rangers or employees of the Division is guilty of a misdemeanor. This bill eliminates the requirement of defiance by the violator under the current statute.
SB407 – This bill stipulates that each engineering or land surveying business only needs one professional engineer or land surveyor. This eliminates the previous stipulation, which required that a professional engineer or land surveyor be present at every location of an engineering or land surveying business.
AJR2 – Urges Congress to reject any expansion in the use of land or exercise of jurisdiction by the United States Air Force in the Desert National Wildlife Refuge.
AJR3 – Expresses support for the Nevada Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation Plan and the Nevada Conservation Credit System and urges the United States Bureau of Land Management to require compensatory mitigation to offset anthropogenic disturbances in accordance with the Nevada Conservation Credit System.
AJR 8 – Expresses the opposition of the Nevada Legislature to the elimination of the Nevada State Office of the Bureau of Land Management.
AB52 – Replaces the Nevada Natural Heritage Program with the Division of Natural Heritage inside the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Additionally, existing regulations regarding native flora will remain in effect until the new administrator and the State Forester Firewarden jointly agree to repeal or replace these regulations.
AB84 – Authorizes $217 million to fund natural and cultural resource protection and $10 million for the restoration of the Truckee and Carson river corridors.
AB93 – Authorizes the Administrator of the Division of State Lands to provide grants from the Account for License Plates for the Support of the Preservation and Restoration of the Natural Environment of the Lake Tahoe Basin to nonprofit organizations that support the cause of the account.
AB96 – Creates the Historic Sites Passport Program as a pilot program that will operate from July 1, 2019 through January 1, 2021 and will issue stamps in a program booklet or passport to participants who visit certain sites, structures, objects, and districts on the State Register.
AB331 – Creates the Outdoor Education and Recreation Grant Program, designed under the Division of State Parks, to award grants for outdoor recreation and education programs for pupils in Nevada. This program must: (1) enable pupils to experience the natural world directly; (2) integrate experience with exposure to matters concerning the environment, agriculture, natural resources, or other related matters; (3) be designed to improve the pupils’ overall academic performance and other attributes; and (4) be primary focused on pupils who are from economically disadvantaged backgrounds or at risk of failing academically or dropping out of school.
AB486 – Creates the Division of Outdoor Recreation within the State Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
AB537 – The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, as well as the Division of Environmental Protection, are allowed to impose any other appropriate remedy or injunction regarding civil penalties for violations pertaining to certain environmental laws, such as those relating to water pollution control, public water systems, the disposal of hazardous waste, storage tanks, and the reclamation of land.
SB56 – Currently, in order to remove any flora that has been placed on the list of fully protected species, NRS 527.050 requires that: (1) written permission from the owner or agent of the owner on private lands; or (2) compliance with regulations of the Division of State Parks regarding public lands be obtained first. SB56 requires that an additional special permit must also be obtained from the State Forester Firewarden. Moreover, a timber owner or operator must submit a statement of the objectives of the harvest and the conditions of the stand as part of the logging permit application and makes other changes to the application requirements. Additionally, logging permits may be suspended or revoked for operating ground-based equipment on saturated soil, the use of ground-based equipment on a slope greater than 30 percent is prohibited, logging harvest area must be minimally stocked not later than 5 years after completion of the logging operations, and the grass seed sown following a logging or cutting operation may now be sowed when moisture is favorable, regardless of season.
SB254 – The State Department of Conservation and Natural Resources must submit an annual report that includes a statewide inventory of greenhouse gas emissions and a projection of annual greenhouse gas emissions in this State for the 20 years immediately following the date of the report. This report must provide policies, identified by an entity or entities designated by the Governor, that could achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and a qualitative assessment of whether such policies support long-term reductions of greenhouse gas emissions in this State to zero or near-zero by the year 2050.
SB508 – Appropriates $205,183 from the State General Fund to the State Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for the replacement of information technology infrastructure and $5,000,000 for wildfire prevention, restoration, and long-term planning. However, the Department must obtain money from public or private sources, including unlimited gifts, grants, and donations, in upwards of $5,000,000 to match the contribution by State through the Interim Finance Committee. However, the State is not required to match gifts, grants, and donations made for wildfire prevention, restoration, and long-term planning.
AB54 – The Director of the Office of Energy must adopt by regulation a minimum standard of energy efficiency for general service lamps sold in Nevada on or after January 1, 2020, which must meet or exceed 45 lumens per watt. Additionally, this bill prohibits the sale, on or after January 1, 2020, of general service lamps that do not meet or exceed the minimum standards of energy efficiency established by the Director for lumens per watt of electricity consumed.
AB465 – This bill implements an expanded solar access program by certain electric utilities in Nevada by requiring such electric utilities to offer an expansion of said program to residential customers and to certain nonresidential customers who consume less than 10,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month. Additionally, each electric utility must submit a plan for this expansion. One of the requirements for this plan is that the capacity of the expansion be below a certain amount, that the program broaden access gradually, and that the program provide participating low-income residential customers with a lower rate. Finally, those electric utilities involved must make use of at least a certain number of community-based solar resources and utility scale solar resources.
AB206* – This bill authorizes the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to authorize an electric utility to establish a program to provide a retail customer of the electric utility the option to purchase electricity from a renewable energy facility owned by the utility or with which the utility has a contract for the purchase of electricity. It also allows the PUC upon the request of an electric utility, to exclude a renewable energy facility owned by the electric utility from the rate base of the utility, and to determine a reasonable rate for the electricity generated by the renewable energy facility. AB 206 also revises the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) for 2018 through 2030 and beyond, so that 40 percent of the total amount of electricity sold by the provider to its retail customers will be electricity from renewable energy systems or efficiency measures. Furthermore, the requirement that a minimum percentage of the amount of electricity generated, acquired or saved by a provider be generated or acquired from solar renewable energy systems is eliminated.
SB298 – A renewable energy facility that has received a partial tax abatement must keep or plan to keep certain records regarding employees of the facility and employees who worked on the construction of the facility. Furthermore, these facilities are to submit a certified payroll report to the Office of Energy, of which wages, for the purposes of determining eligibility for a partial tax abatement, do not include the amount of any health insurance plan, pension or other bona fide fringe benefits which are provided to an employees.
SB358 – Certain electric utilities may acquire an existing renewable energy facility or a renewable energy facility that is being developed if: (1) the PUC had previously accepted an integrated resource plan or amendment to such a plan that provided for the purchase of the electricity generated by the facility pursuant to an agreement between the electric utility and the facility; (2) the electric utility will charge a just and reasonable price for the electricity generated by the facility based on a competitive market price established by the PUC; and (3) the utility acknowledges that it may not include the facility in its rate base and the expenses associated with the facility may not be included in its revenue requirement. The bill revises the RPS for 2021 through 2030 and beyond so that each provider of electric service will be required to generate, acquire, or save electricity from renewable energy systems or efficiency measures not less than 50 percent of the total amount of electricity sold by the provider to its retail customers.
SB392* – Existing incentives available to the Solar Energy Systems Incentive Program, Wind Energy Systems Demonstration Program, and the Waterpower Energy Systems Demonstration Program are combined into a single pool of money from which the PUC may authorize the payment of an incentive to a program. Furthermore, the PUC is required to authorize up to $1,000,000 per year for the installation of solar energy systems, community solar gardens and distributed generation systems at locations throughout the service territories of electric utilities in Nevada which benefit low-income and moderate-income customers until December 31, 2023. Additionally, individuals who subscribe to participate in a community solar garden are entitled to a credit on the subscriber’s monthly utility bill for their share of the electricity generated by the solar garden. Finally, all community solar gardens must have at least 20 subscribers.
SB536 – Money in the Account for Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency, and Energy Conservation Loans may be used for any other purpose for which the U.S. Department of Energy has approved the use of money received pursuant to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
SB547 – Certain plants or equipment used by a data center are excluded from regulation as a public utility, but only with respect to operations of the data center which consist of providing electric service. Additionally, a provider of new electric resources is prohibited from selling energy, capacity or ancillary services to any person or governmental entity in Nevada unless they: (1) hold a license to do so issued by the PUC; or (2) sold energy, capacity or ancillary services to that customer prior to July 1, 2019 and (3) submitted an application for a license to the PUC no later than 30 days after a date established by the PUC by regulation and the Commission issues the license.
SCR 1 – This measure directs the Legislative Committee on Energy to conduct an interim study concerning the development of renewable energy and clean energy resources in this State.
* Bill from Previous Session