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Report: Nevada Can Benefit from More Renewable Energy in 2017

A new report shows 15,000 Nevadans work in clean energy and recommends policies to expand the sector. (MT Aero)
A new report shows 15,000 Nevadans work in clean energy and recommends policies to expand the sector. (MT Aero)
January 2, 2017

CARSON CITY, Nev. — According to a new report, clean energy represents a huge economic opportunity for Nevada in 2017 if lawmakers make the sector a priority.

Analysts from Energy Entrepreneurs (E2), a nonpartisan business group that supports the green economy, found that nationwide, clean energy supports 2.5 million jobs - when you include workers focused on energy efficiency in industries like HVAC and union trades.

E2 Executive Director Bob Keefe said the numbers show that the sector is also important in the Silver State, particularly in Clark and Washoe counties.

"The bottom line is that clean energy is already a major employer in the state,” Keefe said. “And with the right policies, Nevada can keep those jobs growing and catch up with other states."

In December 2015, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) changed the rates for rooftop solar, which resulted in major layoffs among solar installers. But it later 'grandfathered in' existing customers. It also restored net metering to Sierra Pacific rooftop-solar customers in Jan. 1, 2017.

E2 recommends that the state Legislature close loopholes in the Renewable Portfolio Standard - which will require utilities to get 25 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2025. Keefe said Nevada Power and Sierra Energy only get about 10 to 15 percent from renewables.

He also called on the state to facilitate the growth of the electric vehicle industry, noting that Tesla is building a lithium battery plant outside of Sparks.

"With the right electric vehicle policies, you'd see a lot more cars on the road but you'd see a lot more people working in those factories as well," he said.

The report also advised legislators to pass a more stringent energy-efficiency resource standard that would require buildings to conserve more power. In 2015, the P-U-C-N did away with two programs that promoted L-E-D light bulbs and energy-efficient pool pumps, but has since moved to support electric vehicle-charging stations, solar thermal systems, and a new 100-megawatt photovoltaic array in Boulder City.

This story has been updated from an earlier version to clarify the distinction between "clean-energy jobs" and "energy-efficiency jobs and add details on recent PUCN actions.”

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NV