Las Vegas Sun

April 19, 2014

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Gibbons loses on energy study

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Gov. Jim Gibbons

CARSON CITY – Lame Duck Gov. Jim Gibbons has been defeated again – this time by backing a $236,000 study on opportunities for solar development in Nevada.

Democrats Secretary of State Ross Miller and Attorney General Catherine Mastos, as members of the state Board of Examiners, refused to approve a contract from the governor’s energy office for the study using federal stimulus money.

Mastos said this would be a duplicate of the one being undertaken by the state Public Utilities Commission with NV Energy. “It doesn’t make sense,” she told a meeting of the three-member examiners board Friday. It would be a waste of taxpayer dollars, she added.

But Guinn’s Energy Director Jim Groth argued the studies were not duplicative and would add to each other. The study by his energy agency would be paid in federal funds while the cost for the one by the PUC would be borne by Nevada rate payers, the Las Vegas and Reno utility customers.

Groth said unless the federal funds are spent by Sept. 30, they would revert to the federal government and he already has approval for the study.

The governor agreed with Groth, saying he was concerned that Nevadans would be paying the cost for the solar energy study by the PUC and NV Energy. He said the full country would be paying for the cost under stimulus funds for the energy study.

Groth said the contract with HDR Engineering, Inc., Reno, was ready to sign and the study would be completed by Oct 31, ready to present to the 2011 Legislature.

After the meeting, Robin Reedy, the chief of staff for Gibbons, complained to reporters that NV Energy was running the state.

The PUC on Wednesday approved the start of the study of renewable energy on the distribution system and how it affects such things as the rates of customers and environment.

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