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October 1, 2014

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Gibbons: Energy is ‘new gaming industry,’ solution to recession

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Gov. Jim Gibbons

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s renewable energy resources will pull the state out of its recession, much like mining, agriculture and gambling did in past economic downturns, Gov. Jim Gibbons said Thursday.

“This is the new gaming industry for Nevada in the future,” Gibbons said after accepting the final report of his Renewable Energy Transmission Access Advisory Committee. The report details areas of the state where solar, wind and geothermal resources can be developed.

Daniel Schochet, chairman of the committee, said the resources can be developed in five to 10 years and produce an estimated 5,000 megawatts of solar energy, 1,600 megawatts of geothermal and 1,000 megawatts of wind energy. One megawatt can supply up to 750 homes a year.

The committee outlined 21 areas of potential development and the routes of lines that could be used to export the power.

The solar zones identified in the state include Clark, Nye and Lincoln counties. The geothermal potential is mainly in Northern Nevada. The potential for wind is scattered throughout the state.

To develop transmission lines the committee is recommending tax exempt bonds, use of federal stimulus funds and money from ratepayers. There was no estimate how much it might cost a homeowner because all of these projects would be developed at different times and in different areas. And some might never be developed because they would not be feasible.

The committee said the study shows “that a significant market exists in California, Arizona and elsewhere for Nevada’s renewable energy and that the transmission paths are feasible.”

Development of solar in Southern Nevada is ranked first for economic feasibility related to transmission lines, which have an estimated construction cost of $358 million. Ranked second is development of lines for the wind resources in eastern Nevada at $118.1 million. And third in economic feasibility is geothermal development in Northern Nevada at $26.8 million.

Of the tax exempt bonds, the committee said “regardless what the driving technical, regulatory, or siting issues are, establishing a mechanism to repay the investment is critical before any plan can move forward with the construction of these transmission lines and associated facilities.”

But the governor said development of these resources “will build our way out of the recession.”

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