Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011 | 2 a.m.
Nevada has the potential to become a national leader in renewable energy development, displaying plenty of opportunities to tap into the state’s abundant supply of solar, wind and geothermal resources. Nevada has been called “the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy,” and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has pushed for greater emphasis on green power in the state.
In a guest Where I Stand column in Sunday’s Las Vegas Sun, Reid said there is “enormous promise for sustained economic growth and job creation not only in Nevada, but also across the country.”
“We already know 2.7 million are employed in the clean-tech sector across the country — and the clean energy economy has grown at double the rate of the overall economy since 2003,” he said, adding that the state should become “the nation’s clean energy jobs leader.”
The state has made some inroads with the development of some renewable energy projects here, but there is more still to be done.
Today, Reid is hosting the National Clean Energy Summit at Aria. It’s the fourth year for the summit, which brings together business executives, investors, entrepreneurs and political leaders to discuss the issues. Vice President Joe Biden, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Gov. Brian Sandoval are among the scheduled speakers.
The meeting is important because it puts a needed spotlight on the industry and Nevada, which has seen an increase in green jobs with the construction and operation of power and manufacturing facilities in the state.
The question is whether renewable energy will continue to be a priority here and across the country. Some of President Barack Obama’s policies to spur development have run into opposition in Congress, where some of the oil industry’s supporters have objected. They say there isn’t enough of a return for giving tax breaks and other aid to the industry, especially in such a tight economic time.
But that’s shortsighted and foolish. It’s also ironic, given that they have fought to continue giving the oil industry billions of dollars in tax breaks every year even though industry executives say they don’t need them. The tax breaks and aid, like federal loan guarantees, are a necessary investment to help the renewable energy industry get on its feet, and that is important for the country.
The development of renewable energy sources will not only help the economy by adding jobs, but it will also help ease the country’s use of fossil fuels and its dependence on foreign oil, which is a national security issue.
Reid called for redoubling the effort to spur growth in renewable energy, and he is correct. The nation and Nevada need to step up the commitment to renewable energy.