Nevada overwhelmingly passed a renewable energy initiative Tuesday, putting the state one step closer toward mandating a higher amount of wind and solar be used in its energy portfolio.
The campaign to pass Question 6 won by a near 20-point margin, taking 59 percent of the vote to the “no” campaign’s 40 percent.
“Tonight the people of Nevada confirmed what we’ve known all along: We have a right to clean air and clean energy,” Katie Robbins, the YES on 6 campaign manager, said in a Wednesday morning statement.
Question 6 was passed by a large number of Nevada voters on Election Day. The ballot initiative calls for electric utilities to acquire half of their electricity from renewable sources — such as wind, solar and hydroelectric — by 2030. The proposed mandate is a major step up from its current renewable portfolio standard of 25 percent renewables by 2025.
Tom Steyer, a billionaire environmental activist from California, has devoted nearly $6 million to back Question 6 through his NextGen Climate Action organization.
While the Coalition of Energy Users has served as the main opponent against the proposal, a minimal amount of effort was spent opposing Question 6 during the campaign.
Besides the climate change argument, supporters of the initiative argue that a wind and solar mandate will work well in Nevada — a state with more sun than the rest of the country. Opponents counter that such a dramatic increase in renewable mandates, which can be unreliable sources of energy, will increase electricity costs.
However, Question 6’s victory on Tuesday doesn’t mean state regulators will immediately begin enforcing stricter energy mandates. Under Nevada law, constitutional amendments require passage by voters in two consecutive elections — meaning Question 6 will need to win again in 2020 to become the law of the land.
The initiative is expected to face much more resistance in the next go-around. While NV Energy stayed mum during the 2018 campaign, Question 6 supporters are predicting the utility company will spend millions to defeat it over the next two years. (RELATED: Navajo Nation Spokesman Calls Tom Steyer’s Green Energy Campaign A ‘Slap In The Face’)
Conversely, Steyer’s investment in the Nevada was minimal compares to the amount of money he’s spent elsewhere in the country — he’s dropped well more than $21 million through NextGen Climate Action in an effort to pass a similar measure in Arizona. The green energy activist is most likely to take a greater interest in the second round.
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