Nevadans Rally for "Jobs that Stick Around" at Clean Energy Summit
LAS VEGAS - The third National Clean Energy Summit brought industry leaders and policy makers to Las Vegas on Tuesday. It also attracted a diverse group of Nevadans who rallied on behalf of clean energy jobs.
Inside the summit at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, oilman T. Boone Pickens and Thomas Donahue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, discussed ways to move the nation toward a clean energy economy. Outside the summit, however, folks like Tina Past with the Nevada Conservation League Education Fund were calling for action, in terms of job creation.
"It's a great source of good-paying jobs that have longevity, that can't be exported offshore, and it's not an expensive proposition because the source materials – solar, wind, geothermal – those are free."
Some groups, including the Heritage Foundation, argue that the switch to cleaner energy sources will result in higher utility costs for most Americans, but Past disputes that. She says the cost for renewable energy is already competitive and will continue to drop, based on economies of scale.
The summit took place even as a comprehensive energy bill remains stuck in Congress. Dan Geary with the Pew Environment Group is still hopeful the U.S. Senate logjam can be cleared. In his view, the Southwest – and Nevada in particular – is poised to become a clean energy development hub.
"We have a very favorable business climate in Nevada for the location of companies that build the components for clean energy, including manufacturing of solar panels, manufacturing of wind turbines, and so forth. This is an excellent place to begin those companies."
One reason Nevadans can count on jobs from clean energy, says Geary, is that large components, such as wind turbine propellers, aren't easy to transport overseas, so they are more often produced in the United States.