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NV Scientists Urge Preparation for High Energy Demand in Extreme Weather

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More than 85% of the energy Nevada consumes is from out-of-state fossil fuels, despite having the highest solar-energy potential in the nation. (srongkod/Adobe Stock)
More than 85% of the energy Nevada consumes is from out-of-state fossil fuels, despite having the highest solar-energy potential in the nation. (srongkod/Adobe Stock)
 By Lily Bohlke - Producer, Contact
February 25, 2021

RENO, Nev. -- In the wake of the devastating power-grid failure in Texas, energy and climate scientists are urging Nevada to prepare its own power grid for extreme weather events happening more often due to climate change.

Dylan Sullivan, senior scientist for the Climate and Clean Energy Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said energy demand reaches its highest levels during extreme weather, as people try to keep their homes and businesses safe and comfortable.

He argued whether it's a repeat of the August 2020 heat wave or a Texas-style polar vortex event, the Silver State needs to be prepared.

"What we need to do is make sure that we have enough power plants and a strong enough grid in the state to keep power flowing on those really tough days when electricity demand skyrockets," Sullivan asserted.

He noted the question is not whether these events will occur, but how people can prepare for them.

He recommended making sure homes and businesses are well-insulated and using energy-efficient appliances, and doing a better job of knitting together the Western energy grid that Nevada is part of, so the grid is easier to manage in times of stress.

Sullivan added his group supports energy-efficiency legislation, as well as better resource planning, including analyzing worst-case scenarios to make sure there's extra power capacity available for emergencies.

He pointed out Nevada has the most solar-energy potential in the nation, but most of the energy the state consumes still comes from out-of-state fossil fuels.

"It's made to sound as if we have to make a choice between a highly renewable, clean electricity system or reliability," Sullivan remarked. "That's not the case. We really don't have to make a choice if we plan for it."

He hopes to see Nevada move toward more locally-sourced, renewable energy and greater efficiency, both to reduce emissions and help slow the rate of climate change, and reduce the risk of a power-grid failure.

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