Las Vegas Sun

April 20, 2014

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Air traffic will rebound soon but slowly, analysis finds

McCarran International Airport won’t fully recover from the current recession until at least 2014, a leading aviation expert says.

Mike Boyd, president of Evergreen, Colo.-based Boyd Group International, said in a report on enplanement trends and forecasts released this week that Las Vegas airport traffic will begin to rebound next year but that it won’t reach 2008 levels for at least five years.

Although Boyd projects traffic in 2014 to be about 1.4 percent below 2008 levels, McCarran will remain the seventh-busiest airport in the nation because other airports face similar struggles. Traffic peaked at McCarran in 2007, but the recession started taking a bite out of passenger counts a year later.

Boyd also told the Aviation Forecast Summit that Las Vegas will be the harbinger for the end of the recession.

“Wondering how to tell if the recession is ending?” Boyd said. “Don’t call the Fed. Don’t listen to (President Barack) Obama. Just watch the enplanements at Las Vegas.”

Aviation trends generally predict the health of Las Vegas’ resort industry because about 45 percent of the city’s visitors arrive by air.

In raw numbers, Boyd projected Las Vegas would have 19.9 million enplanements in 2010, 20.7 million in 2012, 21.2 million in 2013 and 21.8 million in 2014 — a net loss of about 301,000 passengers compared with the 2008 levels.

• • •

NV Energy is eyeing an overhaul of the way some homes and businesses consume, and pay for, energy.

The power company expects to have retrofitted as many as 1.54 million homes and small- and medium-sized businesses by 2012 with smart meters, a technology that would allow customers to closely monitor and manage their energy use, if NV Energy receives a $138 million grant from the Energy Department. The department is expected to announce recipients by the end of October.

If NV Energy doesn’t receive the grant, it will still begin the retrofitting process, but at a much slower pace.

When a smart meter is installed in a home or business, the customer can choose to monitor his usage, pinpointing where and when energy is being used. This can cut costs by 20 percent to 25 percent, said Bob Stewart, senior vice president of customer relationships at NV Energy.

“Customer choice is the biggest part (of the program),” he said.

Customers who sign up for the program will be able to monitor their usage and how much it will cost to use certain appliances or other technologies at different times.

For instance, someone with an electric car could determine whether to charge his vehicle in the afternoon or overnight, based on the cost difference.

• • •

The Recovery Act is sending $9.6 million to Nevada for energy-efficiency and conservation projects.

Sixty percent of the money is going to local governments for community efficiency projects. Some of the money is also expected to be used to retrofit 200 emergency vehicles with idle-reduction technologies, lowering emissions. The rest of the money is expected to be used to install energy management systems in state buildings, replace inefficient traffic signals and street lighting in rural Nevada and train government workers in energy management.

“This funding will allow states across the country to make major investments in energy solutions that will strengthen America’s economy and create jobs at the local level,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said. “It will also promote some of the cheapest, cleanest and most reliable energy technologies we have — energy efficiency and conservation — which can be deployed immediately. Local communities can now make strategic investments to help meet the nation’s long-term clean energy and climate goals.”

Versions of these stories appear in this week’s In Business Las Vegas, a sister publication of the Sun.

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