Posts Tagged ‘renewable energy’

Gov. Sandoval Orders Assessment Of Transmission Line Construction For Renewable Energy Development

By Sean Whaley | 6:00 pm November 21st, 2011

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval today issued an executive order directing a state agency and task force to assess the regional market for Nevada’s renewable energy resources.

In a briefing with Sandoval Senior Adviser Dale Erquiaga and Nevada State Office of Energy Director Stacey Crowley, it was explained that the assessment is intended to help determine if alternative energy resources can be developed in the state for transmission to California to meet its ambitious alternative energy goals.

The order directs the New Energy Industry Task Force to facilitate “the timely development of transmission facilities and renewable energy resources in this state  . . .”

Courtesy of the Nevada State Office of Energy.

Crowley said she expects to name the 11 members of the task force by Dec. 1 with the goal of having a first meeting before the end of the year. A technical advisory committee will also be appointed, with representatives from the Public Utilities Commission, among others, to assist in the charge given the panel by Sandoval.

Erquiaga said clean energy is one of the sectors identified in the report released last week by the Brookings Institution and SRI International offering guidance to Sandoval and policy makers on economic diversification and new job creation. The report identifies seven economic sectors, some already in existence such as gaming and tourism, and some emerging such as clean energy, where Nevada should focus its efforts.

“How do we get a market for clean energy generated in this state?” Erquiaga asked. “We have to be able to put it on the grid and transmit it, really, to the hungry market over the hill in California.”

Erquiaga said the transmission line discussion has been going on for some time, particularly by NV Energy.

“Part of this conversation is about the ‘where’ the stuff goes, part of this conversation is about the business case; if we generate it, will they buy it,” he said.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has also issued an order mandating that areas of the U.S. look at the regional development of transmission lines, Crowley said.

Crowley’s office will oversee the work of the task force, which is an existing statutory committee. The panel has until Aug. 1, 2012 to report to Sandoval on the business case for the production and transmission of renewable energy for both native and regional requirements.

The deadline is to ensure enough time for the drafting of any legislation that may be needed to implement the task force recommendations, and to allow for any budgetary considerations.

“We need to understand the costs associated with that transmission, and the benefits to Nevadans, whether it be new tax base, job creation, etcetera,” Crowley said. “So those numbers need to be determined in order for us to make a business case to say, California we think we can give you our renewable energy. We may have to build some transmission lines to get there, but it will still be worth it for you, there is still value in it for both states.”

Crowley said California has a goal of obtaining 33 percent of its energy needs through alternative sources by 2020.

Nevada’s goal is 25 percent of its energy consumption coming from alternative energy by 2025.

Erquiaga said Nevada officials are working closely with California Gov. Jerry Brown’s staff on the potential of supplying alternative energy to the state. Brown and Sandoval discussed the issue at an energy summit in Las Vegas in August, he said.


Audio clips:

Dale Erquiaga, senior adviser to Gov. Brian Sandoval, says the task force will determine how to create a market for Nevada’s renewable energy resources:

112111Erquiaga1 :12 hill in California.”

Erquiaga says Nevada needs to determine that if the energy is developed, will California buy it:

112111Erquiaga2 :08 they buy it.”

Nevada State Office of Energy Director Stacey Crowley says the study will determine benefits to the state if renewable energy resources are developed:

112111Crowley :25 for both states.”

Host Of Renewable Energy Bills Could Mean Higher Utility Bills For Nevadans

By Andrew Doughman | 1:13 pm May 19th, 2011

CARSON CITY – The argument goes like this: every Nevadan would only pay 50 cents per person for a great renewable energy program.

Energy lobbyist Ted Ko even held up two shiny quarters during a legislative hearing to make the point.

But legislators are considering more than a dozen renewable energy bills this session,  and some lawmakers fear that a few dollars here and there will add up to significantly higher utility bills for their constituents if all of these bills pass.

“Pretty soon that 50 cents is $5 because there’s a lot going on … By the end of today’s discussion, we are going to have seven or eight bills that are ‘just 50 cents each,’ so it adds up,” said Assemblyman Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, at a legislative hearing last week.

Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, also a Democrat from North Las Vegas, said many of her constituents live in older, larger homes and pay more than average for energy. Ko used 50 cents because it represents 0.5 percent of an “average” utility bill, the rate that people would pay under Senate Bill 184.

Kirkpatrick said her constituents could pay much more.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a $100 bill in my life. … It’s not 50 cents to my constituents,” she said at a hearing last week.

Other bills being considered at the Legislature would raise subsidies for solar and wind and start a new subsidy for the purchase of electric-powered vehicles. Anybody receiving energy through a utility company would pay for these.

That is in addition to a 2009 program providing hundreds of millions of dollars in renewable energy subsidies to be paid out over several years.

And Nevadans already pay more than the national average for their energy, says Dan Jacobsen of the Nevada Bureau of Consumer Protection.

At the same time, Gov. Brian Sandoval and legislative leaders regularly tout the prospects for the renewable energy sector in Nevada.

Sandoval recently said he wants Nevada to be “the renewable energy capital of the world.”

Providing subsidies and government programs to attract investment in renewable energy could have many benefits for Nevada.

Renewable-energy factories in Nevada could provide high-paying manufacturing jobs and boost property tax revenues for local governments.

The renewable energy sector could also bolster Nevada’s ailing construction industry and provide jobs.

Lobbyists for renewable energy companies say that the long-term economic gain outweighs the cost of incentives that ratepayers subsidize.

“We definitely want to avoid a situation that would impact ratepayers to their detriment,” said Rose McKinney-James, a lobbyist for the Solar Alliance.

She said it would be dangerous to imperil the young renewable-energy industry by “pulling the rug out” rather than slowly weening the industry off subsidies.

“The challenge is this: how fast do you go and how much do you ask the base ratepayer to subsidize this?” Jacobson asked.

Ratepayers could see about a 2 percent increase on their utility bills if these bills pass, Jacobsen said, describing the impact of each bill during an interview last week.

NV Energy is already seeking a 5 percent increase for Southern Nevada customers and a 3 percent increase for Northern Nevada customers for “lost sales compensation” as customers have conserved more energy.

The utility company expects the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada to deliver a ruling on the proposed rate increase sometime next week.

In the meantime, legislators plan to whittle down the number of bills they are considering. They could carve up the bills and strike a compromise before the Legislature hits its looming deadline for passing bills.

“We definitely can’t do them all,” Atkinson said of all the bills.

Former CIA Director Lobbies For Energy Bill, Says Matter Of National Security

By Andrew Doughman | 2:00 am April 23rd, 2011

CARSON CITY — The Legislature played host to a former director of the CIA yesterday, who came to voice support for a renewable energy bill.

James Woolsey, director of the CIA between 1993 and 1995, said the passage of the bill is a matter of national security.

Senate Bill 184 would establish a “feed-in tariff” program in Nevada, which would allow small-scale solar, wind, geothermal and other energy producers to “feed in” their energy to the grid.

Public utility companies would set a cap on the energy it collects and would pay producers of energy at a standard rate.

Woolsey said the program would likely mean a half percent increase in the utility bills for the average household’s energy bill.

But Woolsey said the cost is worth it.

“Whether you’re worried about terrorists or hackers … if you lose power because of these accidents, because of terrorist attackers on transformers, because of hacker attacks, you are just out of business,” he said.

Former CIA director James Woolsey speaks in the deli at the Nevada Legislature about establishing a feed-in tariff, renewable energy program in Nevada, which he says is a national security issue. /PHOTO Andrew Doughman, Nevada News Bureau

The feed-in tariff program would allow Nevada to maintain power for critical functions even if an attack or natural disaster disrupted the main power supply.

Hundreds or thousands of small-scale producers would together provide a sizable chunk of Nevada’s energy. Woolsey said these are small facilities “which would be a spare acre on a farmer’s property and maybe the roofs on his barn, the top of a parking garage in Las Vegas or Reno, the top of a church, the top of a school.”

The concept is similar to diversifying an investment portfolio. A down market in one sector will not make you a beggar if you have investments in other sectors.

“It’s the difference between a very difficult situation on one hand versus a collapse of civilization on the other,” Woolsey said. “So there’s a big premium, I think, to essentially being able to have distributed generation for reasons of security.”

Woolsey does, however, have personal reasons to push for investment in renewable energy. He is a partner in venture capital firms that invest in clean-energy technology.

NV Energy has testified against the bill during past Senate hearings.

The company argued that a feed-in tariff program would create “significant consumer cost increases,” and suggested that their current approach to using renewable energy works and saves money for consumers.

“We support strategies that ensure that renewables are developed and integrated into the utility grid in a manner that does not expose our customers to diminished reliability,” wrote Judy Stokey for NV Energy.

Woolsey, however, contended that the program would be sound. In the bill, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada would review and revise the program periodically.

Other critics of renewable energy policies in general have said that such legislation means government picks a winning technology rather than letting market forces sift through various modes of energy production for a lasting winner.

“It depends on whether you believe that the government should consider national security in putting together some of the rules and regulations for energy,” Woolsey said. “The government was involved in stringing telegraph lines, the government was invovled in the Pony Express, the government was involved in the railroads going West … there is virtually no aspect of energy production that has not been substantially guided by the federal government.”

Woolsey spent yesterday lobbying for the bill, met with Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, himself a proponent of renewable energy business development, and met with the media.

He will appear today on local journalist Anjeanette Damon’s television program, To The Point, at 6:30 p.m.

Senate Bill 184 is being considered in the Senate and must pass by Tuesday, the deadline for passing bills out of their house of origin.



Nevada Group Seeking To Create Yucca Mountain Energy Park Seeks Amendment To Legislation

By Sean Whaley | 4:15 pm March 31st, 2011

CARSON CITY – An organization that wants to see Yucca Mountain used as a temporary nuclear waste storage site with a research center to explore reprocessing has proposed an amendment to a bill in the Legislature to move its Energy Park idea forward.

In a hearing Wednesday on Senate Bill 375 to create renewable energy corridors, John Dunn, one of the directors of Nevadans for Carbon Free Energy, proposed an amendment to the legislation to include nuclear energy as an option, and to change the term “renewable” energy, to “carbon-free” or “clean” energy.

The bill as written specifically excludes nuclear energy.

The Senate Government Affairs Committee, which heard the bill by Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, took no immediate action on the proposed amendment or the bill itself.

Cegavske said today the committee indicated at the hearing it wants to keep the legislation as written. While putting Yucca Mountain to use as an energy related research facility is worthy of discussion, SB375 is not the vehicle for that debate, she said.

The organization presented similar testimony at a meeting of the Nevada Commission on Nuclear Projects.

The group says Yucca Mountain is an ideal location to temporarily store spent fuel and host a research center to study reprocessing technologies for commercial application. When such technology becomes available, the fuel could be sold to re-processors or a facility could be built to do the reprocessing.

The $13 billion spent on Yucca Mountain infrastructure when it was being prepared to be a long-term disposal site for nuclear waste makes the site a good candidate for such a park, the group says.

Nevada Institute Selected To Pilot Federal Program

By Andrew Doughman | 2:36 pm February 18th, 2011

CARSON CITY – A Nevada group has beat out 71 national competitors to mentor small businesses under a federal program.

The federal Small Business Administration picked the Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization earlier this week to be a pilot for an entrepreneurial mentoring program.

NIREC joins just three other companies nationwide in the program designed to pair mentors with participating companies to assess needs, opportunities and strategies.

In other words, officials decided that the work NIREC already does in Nevada qualified it to for the pilot program.

The institute already has an established network of professionals who understand entrepreneurship. Research institutes, utilities, corporations and venture capitalists are all part of the not-for-profit organization.

According to a Small Business Administration press release, that means they should be able to more easily help companies raise money, create jobs and overcome challenges.

John Argo, an entrepreneur at NIREC, said that the institute is supposed to partner with a handful of businesses nationwide to help them grow.

“You have to spend a lot of time with each company to find out what their needs are and connect them with the right people,” he said.

None of the companies are in Nevada.

He said, however, that the organization already partners with tech-based start-ups in Nevada, and NIREC officials can always bring what they learn through participating in the federal program back to Nevada.

NIREC has also been involved at the Legislature at committee hearings for economic development.

Sen. Harry Reid Talks Tough On Deficit

By Andrew Doughman | 7:50 pm January 18th, 2011

Driving down debt and reining in federal spending might not be two things people normally associate with Sen. Harry Reid, but that’s what he spent most of this time addressing on television tonight.

“We cannot sustain the spending of this country,” the Democrat said. “We cannot wind up being a Greece or an Ireland and default on our debt.”

Reid spoke on journalist Jon Ralston’s Face to Face television program, where he highlighted the budget surplus he helped create under the Clinton administration. He also downplayed a 2006 vote against raising the debt ceiling under the Bush administration.

Congress will first have to vote whether or not to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, a measure that used to spark no controversy. A rejection to raise the debt ceiling could endanger the country’s ability to borrow money, and could even cause it to default.

Reid said that Congress would first have to vote to lift the debt ceiling above its current $14.3 trillion limit before it embarks on any serious debt reduction.

He said, however, the he is optimistic that Republicans and Democrats can agree on how to drive down the debt.

Reid’s television appearance marked the end of a busy day in Nevada for the Senator. He used the visit to announce his priorities for the new session of Congress.

As reported in the Las Vegas Sun, Reid listed creating clean energy jobs, improving Nevada’s education system, modernizing transportation infrastructure and investing in small businesses among his priorities.

Earlier in the day, he toured a Las Vegas solar panel manufacturing plant and spoke about green jobs and renewable energy.

“We’re going to be able to be energy independent within the immediate future,” he said.

Reid noted that Nevada will be well-poised to export its renewable energy by 2020, when California has established it must supply one-third of its power from renewable energy sources.

Reid also said that he hopes Congress will tackle comprehensive immigration reform and make modifications to the health care law.

“The (health care) bill we passed is not perfect,” he said. “We have a lot of things we can do to help make it better.”

He recommended removing some of the reporting obligations the new law mandated for small businesses, which he said were too burdensome.

On the education front, Reid implored Gov. Brian Sandoval to “step back from election statements” and make tough choices and fund education properly.