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Utility Decision Could Impact Job Growth in Key Sector in Nevada

July 26, 2010

LAS VEGAS - State regulators have a decision to make this week concerning the electric power company NV Energy and the funding of energy-efficiency programs. It's a decision that some say could impact job growth in a key sector, clean energy. Recent studies have shown that sector is seeing the fastest growth in jobs at a time when Nevada is seeing record unemployment.

Nat Hodgson, vice president of construction and customer relations with the builder Pulte Homes, says both consumers and the environment benefit from energy-efficient homes, but it can take a while for efficiency savings to reach consumers' pocket books.

That's why, he says, it's important for big utility companies like NV Energy to keep funding energy-efficiency programs, so builders can keep constructing new houses and retrofitting older ones.

"Rebates is a big factor about changing the behavior, especially in today's market where you need some help on the front end, to be able to put these efficiency devices into the home, to be able to sell the home at a fair market value."

NV Energy is asking to be allowed to reduce its energy-efficiency investments, because of decreased demand and lower population growth.

Robert Sprague, associate director of the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association credits NV Energy with coming a long way on the issue. He says he would like to see the company expand on their original plan, which he calculates could save consumers as much as $450 million over the next two decades.

"I would like to see what they have in place stay, and then expand on it; like give a rebate for adding insulation, or even tinting the windows to make them low-E, if they are not low-E; things like that would make such a difference to the homeowners."

Sprague says it costs a quarter as much to save a kilowatt of energy as to produce one.

State regulators will rule on the NV Energy spending plan on Wednesday.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV