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Study shows regional electric grid would energize Nevada’s economy

Posted by Cayli Baker on Sep 28, 2022

Joining a Western RTO could create up to 21,000 jobs and save Nevadans millions in energy cost.

CARSON CITY, September 28, 2022 — A new analysis shows Nevada would see significant economic benefits from joining a regional electric grid with neighboring states. The study, conducted by independent consulting firm Energy Strategies on behalf of business association Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), found that joining a regional transmission organization (RTO) could generate upwards of $2 billion in new Gross State Product (GSP) for Nevada and upwards of 20,000 permanent, living-wage jobs across diverse sectors of the economy.

An RTO is a cooperation agreement which allows electric utilities across multiple states to share resources and leverage the cheapest, cleanest, and most efficient energy sources through an organized regional market. Currently, the West is one of the only regions in the U.S. without an RTO managing its power grid, but Nevada has already taken steps to join this kind of integrated power market by 2030.

Compared to the status quo, joining a West-wide electric grid could generate up to:

  • 21,000 new permanent, high-paying jobs for Nevadans
  • $32 million in energy cost savings annually for Nevada ratepayers
  • $2 billion in gross state revenue, diversifying the state’s economy

The methodology comes from AEE’s recently published white paper Western RTO Economic Impact Study: Region-wide Analysis, released in July, which examined the economic impact of establishing a RTO for 11 states across the Western US.

“Right now, Nevada’s electric grid operates more or less as an island, which leaves homes and businesses at risk of being stranded during extreme weather,” said Sarah Steinberg, Principal at AEE. “Establishing a Western RTO would allow Nevada to share its excess solar and geothermal energy to neighboring states and tap into affordable wind and hydropower in the region. The ability to do so will help keep the lights on at lower cost through all kinds of conditions. If Nevada continues to lead the West toward a more interconnected power grid, it will also give the state a competitive advantage when it comes to attracting more clean energy jobs and offering businesses and residents lower electricity bills.”

This report comes on the heels of significant momentum to establish a regional electric grid in the West. Last year, Governor Steve Sisolak established Nevada’s first Regional Transmission Coordination Task Force, which is charged with examining the benefits and feasibility of joining a West-wide RTO and is slated for its second meeting on October 12, and State Senator Chris Brooks sponsored SB 448, which requires Nevada to join an RTO by the end of 2030. Colorado passed a similar law, and California recently approved a resolution requiring the state’s grid operator to produce a report examining the impacts of regional grid collaboration.

“We need an electric grid that can meet Nevada’s future energy needs and we won’t be able to meet these growing demands without regional collaboration across the West,” said State Senator Chris Brooks (D-Las Vegas), who chairs Nevada’s Regional Transmission Coordination Task Force. “With expanded economic opportunity, better electric grid reliability, and lower energy costs all on the line, Nevada has a lot to gain from joining a Western RTO. Establishing a regional grid would be a major win for Nevada and the region.”

A full copy of the Nevada state report can be found here and a one page summary of the findings here.

Topics: 21st Century Electricity System, Press Releases, Sarah Steinberg