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December 21, 2014

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Summit to address workforce’s role in clean energy shift

Jobs and the economy will take center stage during the National Clean Energy Summit 2.0 on Aug. 10 at UNLV’s Cox Pavilion.

The summit comes when Las Vegas’ jobless rate hit 12.3 percent in June. That figure doesn’t include people who have given up looking for work or who are working part time but would prefer full time.

Nationwide the unemployment rate hit 9.5 in June.

Perhaps Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, a recent addition to the summit, can speak to the workforce’s role in renewable energy.

Part of the national development of renewable energy lies with Congress, which will be considering legislation to promote and fund projects after its August recess.

There will be a lot on the summit’s table, including a round-table discussion about building on a clean energy economy, including clean energy investment and promoting renewable energy and infrastructure.

“This is an exciting time in the history of America,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said during a teleconference on the summit.

But “Nevada has to compete with other states and create incentives to draw (renewable energy companies) to Nevada,” he added later.

“There are a lot of states where the sun shines all the time ... Nevada needs to be aggressive,” he said.

Former Vice President Al Gore, also during the teleconference, said Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen has been aggressive in taking part in the “solar wave.”

During the afternoon’s clean-energy policy town hall, participants will have the chance to ask questions of Reid, Gore and businessman T. Boone Pickens. The town hall will be moderated by John Podesta, former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton. Podesta is CEO of the Center for American Progress, a think tank.

Clinton will be there, as well as Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and former presidential candidate Gen. Wesley Clark, the co-chairman of Growth Energy and an advocate for ethanol energy. In 2005 Clinton challenged Las Vegas’ business community at the Nevada Development Authority’s annual meeting to lead the nation in moving toward conservation and renewable energy.

Reid let it slip that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would be there, but the governor hasn’t yet confirmed.

Those who will be attending include local economist Keith Schwer, director of UNLV’s Center for Business and Economic Research; NV Energy CEO Michael Yackira; Bright Source Energy CEO John Woolard; and American Wind Energy Association CEO Denise Bode.

Those announced earlier include Energy Secretary Stephen Chu; United Nations Foundation President and former Sen. Tim Wirth, D-Colo.; and Van Jones, White House Council on Environmental Quality special adviser.

The summit is organized by Reid and the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Money for energy projects

The Treasury and Energy departments are accepting applications for direct payments instead of tax credits to companies that create and operate renewable energy facilities since Jan. 1.

The government expects to hand out at least $3 billion for 5,000 biomass, solar, wind and other renewable energy production facilities through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Since the recession began, fewer renewable energy installations have been built because loans were difficult to get, the Treasury said. The government expects an acceleration of businesses applying for the cash payments, a potential stimulus to local economies.

Go to treas1603.nrel.gov for more information.

More money for Nevada

The state will get $14 million for renewable energy projects through the federal recovery act.

The money will go toward energy efficiency retrofits in state buildings and schools, the creation of an energy efficient traffic signal and streetlight program and the adoption of 2009 residential and commercial building codes.

If done correctly, the state stands to gain another $17 million.

California to buy

local solar energy

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has agreed to buy solar energy generated at El Dorado Energy, a subsidiary of Sempra Generation.

The solar power will be collected at the Copper Mountain Solar facility, which begins construction later this year and finished in 2011. Once it is operating, it’s expected to generate an average of 100 gigawatt-hours of electricity each year, equal to the annual consumption of more than 14,000 homes.

This will be Pacific Gas’ second contract for renewable energy from Sempra Generation, but California Public Utilities Commission approval is needed.

Nicole Lucht covers health care, workplace, energy and banking issues for In Business Las Vegas and its sister publication, the Las Vegas Sun. She can be reached at 259-8832 or at [email protected]

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