SB 116 would lock Nevadans into decades of fossil fuels and unnecessary costs
NEVADA — On Wednesday, April 12, clean energy advocates testified in opposition to legislation that would double down on gas in Nevada and force ratepayers to foot the bill for expensive, unnecessary methane gas pipelines with little regulatory oversight. SB 116 would lock in decades of continued reliance on fossil fuels, even as new, more efficient technologies become available while guaranteeing Southwest Gas continues to collect a check.
The legislation’s attempt to ‘modernize’ gas systems is unnecessary. The Southwest Gas system is already composed of modern and lowest risk materials and currently have an effective process for replacing aging or leaky pipes. SB 116 would force the Public Utilities Commission to authorize Southwest Gas to make unnecessary patches to the gas system and actually saddle customers with billions in costs to replace up to thousands of miles of existing gas pipes that may not need replacement.
Nevada’s climate and decarbonization goals call for a shift from the advancement of fossil fuels, including methane gas. SB 116 would allow for funds to replace gas pipelines, despite the growing urgency to transition to cleaner, renewable energy sources to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. This proposed legislation would not only undermine efforts to address the climate crisis, but also enriches the utility on the backs of ratepayers.
During the Senate Growth and Infrastructure Committee hearing on the bill, Nevada Conservation League Deputy Director Christi Cabrera-Georgeson offered the following testimony in opposition to the bill:
NCL strongly opposes SB 116. The “gas modernization” proposed in this bill is unnecessary, unaligned with our decarbonization goals, and bad for ratepayers.
There is already an effective process for replacing aging or leaky pipes. Additionally, there is a bill before the legislature this session that would provide long term planning for gas utilities. We need more transparency and input when discussing the gas system, not less.
Nevada produces almost no gas and spends $1.4 billion every year on the out-of-state fossil fuel. This wholesale replacement of the existing gas system would lock in our dependence on fossil fuels for decades, even as new, more efficient technologies become available.
Nevadans are currently experiencing historically high gas bills and volatile methane gas prices are largely to blame. Our over-reliance on gas puts consumers at risk and they shouldn’t be burdened more than they already are. This is not the time to increase rates even more by saddling gas customers with billions of dollars in costs to replace pipelines.
In January, the Nevada Conservation League released its policy agenda for the 2023 legislative session which included strategy to ensure any bill that moves through the legislative process does not prolong or encourage the use of fossil fuels in our state.
The key to achieving Nevada’s climate goals of 100% clean power and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is prioritizing home-grown renewable energy that will create jobs, drive economic growth, clean up air pollution, and protect communities from the impacts of climate change. Clean energy solutions will also provide reliable, affordable energy for years to come.