Billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s casino company is making a push against a Nevada plan to boost wind and solar power.
Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. and much of the rest of the casino industry are opposing a bill sitting on Republican Governor Brian Sandoval’s desk that would increase the generation of renewable energy in the state.
The battle between one of President Donald Trump’s wealthiest supporters and environmentalists represents one of the first tests of states’ resolve to fight climate change after the U.S pulled out of the Paris climate accord. Earlier this month, nine states, including California and New York, as well as the leaders of 125 cities, pledged their support to policies to reduce emissions and meet the Paris agreement.
“States are trying to demonstrate their commitment to a carbon reduction strategy or growth in renewable power,” said Timothy Fox, an analyst for researcher ClearView Energy Partners LLC. “The governor may be considering how his decision might be viewed within the context of the Trump administration pulling out of Paris.”
The Nevada bill requires that 40 percent of the state’s electricity come from clean energy sources by 2030, up from the current target of 25 percent by 2025.
The Nevada Resort Association and Sands, which say they support clean power, called the mandate premature because the state was starting to deregulate its electricity market through a November ballot measure.
That plan, which casinos including Adelson’s Sands supported, would ultimately give customers the chance to choose their provider — including those focused on renewable energy. The resort association said it also feared the mandate’s impact on energy prices.
Governor Sandoval, a Republican, echoed those concerns in an e-mailed statement from a spokeswoman. That worries environmentalists.
“The governor has in front of him the most impactful clean energy and climate decision he will have the chance to make,” said Dylan Sullivan, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group. The bill would add about 1.7 gigawatts of solar to the state by 2030, nearly double the current amount, Sullivan said.
Proponents of the measure, including casino owner MGM Resorts International, online auctioneer EBay Inc. and data center provider Switch Ltd. say cost concerns are unwarranted given the rapidly falling price of wind and solar energy.
“We have one of the best solar environments in the world and the cost of wind is at an all-time low,” said Nevada Assemblyman Chris Brooks, the sponsor of the renewable standards bill.