Las Vegas Sun

March 27, 2015

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Turning point for Nevada?

Clean energy summit at UNLV should add great momentum to renewables effort

Nevada is moving on renewable energy like a car whose gear is in drive but whose gas pedal is not being pushed. The potential is hardly being tapped.

Even at its current pace, though, the state has two sizable solar projects in operation and more are being planned.

Also, a 130,000-square-foot plant for manufacturing components for solar thermal power systems was opened last month in Las Vegas by Ausra Inc. And 15 geothermal plants are operating in Nevada, with 40 more in development stages.

But these and other projects, such as studies under way to calculate Nevada’s substantial potential for wind power, represent barely a fraction of what the state could be accomplishing with renewable energy.

We believe that an event this week at UNLV — the National Clean Energy Summit — could be a turning point for Nevada. Co-hosts are the university, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

In addition to Reid and UNLV President David Ashley, speakers will include former President Clinton, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, oil man and wind farmer T. Boone Pickens and numerous regional, state and local leaders in the political, utility, scientific and business sectors.

We agree with David Comarow, guest author of Thursday’s Where I Stand column in this newspaper, that the conference is a good sign that Nevada may now be seeing the value of investing on a large scale in its long-term energy future.

He is semiretired now, but in 1976 Comarow was instrumental in setting up a solar energy program at the College of Southern Nevada. In Thursday’s column he wrote, “It is time for our state, in partnership with the federal government and private industry, to build the largest solar energy system in the world.”

Nevada’s potential in the area of renewable energy is so vast it could conceivably power the whole country — and create thousands of jobs here in the process. Let’s get moving.

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