Thomas Mitchell’s recent column, “Question 6 would cost money and provide no benefits,” uses inaccurate data and twists the facts in order to push an anti-renewable energy agenda.
For starters, Mitchell ignored the benefits of voting yes on Question 6, which would guarantee 50 percent renewable energy in Nevada by 2030 and provide a much-needed accountability measure to help clean our air, reduce our reliance on dirty energy and galvanize our economy with resources that are free. We currently spend $700 million on coal and natural gas from other states to fuel our power plants in Nevada, according to regulatory filings in the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada. Question 6 will ensure we invest in Nevada’s resources and Nevada’s workforce.
As the former Mayor of Mesquite, I have seen firsthand the benefits of renewable energy. At least $7 billion worth of investments in renewable energy have come into Nevada in the last decade, bringing thousands of jobs, reducing emissions and galvanizing our economy, according to the Governor’s Office of Energy. Question 6 ensures that trend continues.
Despite Mitchell’s implications that getting to our current 20 percent benchmark for renewables has been costly for ratepayers, the majority of electricity customers in Southern Nevada has seen average monthly power bills drop by $4 in the last five years, according to regulatory filings in the PUCN. Furthermore, emission reductions from Question 6 will lead to more than $20 million in health care savings and keep more people out of emergency rooms and doctors offices in the state, according to a recent study from the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Mitchell’s other arguments on cost just don’t add up. Current market trends make one of the strongest economic argument for voting Yes on Question 6. Look at a utility company like MidAmerican Energy, which serves parts of Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois and South Dakota. The company is already generating 48 percent of its power from renewables and wants to get to 100 percent in the coming years while retiring fossil fuel generation. This investor-owned, shareholder-driven company is simultaneously promising to lock in customer rates, which are the ninth cheapest in the nation, over the next decade. How can it do that? Because renewables are more cost efficient.
The CEO of Xcel Energy recently described his company’s plan to invest $2.5 billion in renewables in Colorado, explaining at a recent conference that it is cheaper to build new renewable generation than keeping existing fossil-fuel-driven power.
We can no longer doubt that renewables are cheap. A bid to build a new solar plant down the road from Mesquite came in at 2.3 cents per kWh –– the cheapest offer in the nation. Let’s capitalize on our abundance cost-efficient and clean resources. To ensure we do, vote Yes on Question 6 in November.
Susan M Holecheck