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January 26, 2015

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Undercutting the future

Republican plan to end federal program would hurt Nevada and the nation

Developers are planning to build a 110-megawatt solar power plant north of Tonopah. The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project would be unique, using U.S.-made molten-salt technology to store energy that would allow it to provide electricity throughout the day.

The plant would be a boon to Nevada, creating 600 jobs on-site, and it would be a great source of renewable energy.

The Obama administration pledged to give plant developer SolarReserve loan guarantees this year to get the project off the ground. But, as Karoun Demirjian reported in Thursday’s Las Vegas Sun, the project may not get the guarantees because House Republicans recently voted to ax the loan guarantee program.


Republicans don’t like it because it involves renewable energy, which they apparently find detestable, and because the program was born out of the stimulus bill, which they pledged to kill.

Once again Republicans have let their blind ideology trump what’s good for the nation.

America needs to be developing renewable energy sources as part of its plan to become energy independent. But the young renewable energy industry needs a kick start, and the federal government’s program is a good way to do that. Energy projects have been able to leverage the loan guarantees for hundreds of millions of dollars in private investment, which will create both short- and long-term jobs.

For example, a new power transmission line that will stretch from Apex to Ely, opening the way for alternative energy plants in eastern Nevada, recently received a federal loan guarantee. The guarantee will allow developers to get financing, and that will be a benefit to the economy. The state will see construction jobs in the short term and in the long term there will be jobs associated with renewable energy plants. The line should also lead to cheaper electricity for Nevadans.

The loan guarantees are an investment in America, assuring the construction of plants, the creation of jobs and a better energy future. And they are vital for the success of the renewable energy industry.

The Tonopah project won’t be built without the loan guarantees, and that would be tragic. As Kevin Smith, CEO of SolarReserve, put it, “It’s U.S. technology and U.S. jobs — it would just be ridiculous for the U.S. government to clip its wings at the last minute.”


The Tonopah project lies in Republican Rep. Dean Heller’s district, and Heller’s spokesman said the congressman supports the project but wouldn’t exactly endorse the loan guarantee program, saying it is “necessary to evaluate what the best role for the federal government is in encouraging growth in this industry.”

That is a shame. This program is, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “exactly the kind of public-private partnership that Nevada and the nation need to help us lead the world in clean energy jobs.”

Heller and Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., should be doing all they can to push their caucus to support the loan guarantee program. It is essential for Nevada to develop its abundant sources of renewable energy and diversify its economy.

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  1. Molten Salt plant in Yermo CA, I guess was converted to a gamma ray telescope.

    It would be nice to see more solar incorporated in residential and commercial buildings, rather than remote areas, including solar hot water systems.

    Most big ideas have had government help. Erie Canal, Panama Canal, Transcontinental Railroad, computer, Nuclear Power, vaccines, etc. were government programs. Grow up dittoheads.

  2. I'm an independent. I have noticed a persistent trend. Democrats fund advanced technologies. Republicans de-fund them.

    The consequences to the United States can be seen in the effects of higher oil prices. Increasingly, liquid oil has be used and U.S. reserves of oil are in the form of oil shale and coal. In my lifetime the U.S. has started to develop technologies to economically convert oil shale and coal to gasoline and diesel -- only to have those projects discontinued, as unnecessary or uneconomic. Then, later the same party that has discontinued those projects blames the other party for failure to "have an effective energy policy", or whatever.

    This is just one of many examples of how the two-party system has failed our nation.

  3. The first week that Ronald Reagan became President, he canceled 90% of the solar renewable energy research. Now, China makes most of the Solar Cells in the world!! Jobs? Reagan got rid of them and outsourced as many more as possible.

    Mike Beard, a Republican state representative from Minnesota, recently argued that coal mining should resume in part because he believes God has created an earth that will provide unlimited natural resources. (Yikes!)

    Republicans have been trying to destroy renewable energy for the past 30 years so this is nothing new.

    With the latest Qaddafi fiasco, the Government is debating whether to use the national petroleum reserves to control prices. Back to square Zero point Zero.

    Republicans just CANNOT LEARN. They do the same thing year after year and expect a different outcome, and the definition for that behavior never changes either.

  4. The problem is solar cost 5 to 10 times more than oil. And we have HUNDREDS OF YEARS of oil and gas.
    It is not Republican vs Democrat ALSO NOT old tech vs new tech. Solar has been around for 60 years and FAILED to come even in the ballpark of oil and gas RETURN ON INVESTMENT.
    This is about truth vs stupidity. Just look into "turning corn into gas" even Al Gore admits it is just plain DUMB