“How are you promoting federal efforts to assist in Nevada’s economic development through developing renewable energy?”
Every driver in Nevada knows that our nation needs a new energy strategy. Since the beginning of this year, gasoline prices have soared to record levels. We still remember the electric power crisis of a few years ago, which cost Nevada consumers billions of dollars. And we all understand that America’s dependence on oil from the volatile Middle East isn’t good for our national security.
Implementing the right energy strategy for the 21st century will be a challenge. Fortunately for us, that challenge presents great opportunities for Nevada.
The Silver State is rich in renewable energy resources – the heat within the earth, the warmth of the sun and the force of the wind. For too long these resources lay dormant, like an undiscovered vein of gold beneath the ground. Today, we finally have the technology to efficiently harness these resources. So it is not only possiblefor us to develop our renewable resources – it is also necessary.
Nevada is positioned to be a leader in renewable energy. We have set a goal of producing 15 percent of our electricity from renewable sources by 2013. We want our state to be a proving ground for clean renewable energy, not a dumping ground for dangerous nuclear waste.
Renewable energy is good for our environment and our economy. It protects consumers by providing a steady, reliable source of electricity that isn’t subject to wild price swings. It safeguards our environment because it doesn’t generate pollution or carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.
It will make our nation stronger by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil. We use about a million barrels of oil every day for home heating and industrial needs that could be converted to renewable energy. And renewables can help us make the transition to hydrogen-based vehicles, further reducing our petroleum consumption.
Best of all for Nevada, developing our renewable energy resources will create tens of thousands of good jobs in all parts of the state, including rural areas. According to the Western Governors Association, the Department of Energy’s initiative to deploy 1,000 megawatts of solar power in the Southwest would create about 10,000 jobs. The American Wind Energy Association tells us that every megawatt of wind power developed equals $1 millionin investment, and that 30 percent to 40 percent of the total investment in a wind project stays in the community where the project is located. And tripling geothermal production over the next seven years would stimulate $61 billion worth of domestic investment, according to the Department of Energy.
One way to spur the development of our renewable resources and create new jobs is by providing tax incentives. Wind power is currently the fastest-growing source of new electricity, partly because of a production tax credit of 1.8 cents per kilowatt hour it has enjoyed since 1992. In 1990 the cost of wind energy was 22.5 cents per kilowatt hour. Today, thanks to improved technology and the tax credit, wind is a competitive energy source at 3 cents to 4 cents per kilowatt hour.
Unfortunately, that incentive has expired. We must not only renew the production tax credit for wind energy – we must extend it to solar and geothermal energy. I have been working for several years to pass a tax credit for wind, solar and geothermal power. We came close to succeeding last year when the provision was included in the Senate Energy Bill. Unfortunately, the final version of that bill that came back from the House did not pass.
I continued to fight for a renewable energy production tax credit, and now that goal is within reach. My production tax credit was attached to a corporate tax measure that the Senate approved on May 11. I hope the House will accept it, so it can become law this summer. If not, I’ll keep fighting until I succeed. I’m not going to give up on this issue, because the stakes are too high for Nevada and our nation.
A tax incentive to develop renewable energy will be a good first step toward a national energy policy. It will be a giant step for economic development in Nevada.