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Energizing our future

Jason Geddes

Nevadans are independent by nature. It is a value we hold dear and that newcomers crave. One area in which we have lost our independence is in energy consumption. Nevadans spend $9 billion to $12 billion per year to purchase coal, natural gas and gasoline/diesel. The time is right for us to begin to divest ourselves from dependence on petroleum and to invest in clean energy. The political climate, the economic climate and Greater Reno-Tahoe’s clean energy natural resources make this the ideal time and place to develop geothermal, solar and wind energy.

Let’s look at the top 10 ways Greater-Reno Tahoe and Nevada are becoming a hub for clean energy in America:

1. Ranks first for geothermal resources. Nevada leads the nation in geothermal resources with the largest untapped geothermal resources in the country and the potential for up to 3,700 megawatts of geothermal power production. There are 489 megawatts in production or development in the Greater Reno-Tahoe area, currently generating 110 watts per person (California produces less than 70 watts). Geothermal energy is a clean, constant source of energy with only minimal emissions.

2. Reno is generating geothermal power for residential load. Nevada’s second largest city is the only one in the country with a population of more than 100,000 that is capable of generating enough power through geothermal energy to supply its entire residential load. Ormat Technologies’ geothermal plant in Reno can produce enough energy for roughly 300,000 people enough to serve the city’s population.

3. Ranks first in solar energy production. Nevada is No. 1 in solar energy production per capita in the nation, generating 33 watts per person (California produces 18 watts per person) and No. 1 in solar resources. And, with Greater Reno-Tahoe averaging 300 days of sunshine per year we’re in the perfect position to harness this natural abundance.

4. Home to the largest photovoltaic installations in North America. The Silver State boasts Nevada Solar One, the largest solar thermal power plant built in the last 18 years. And that is just the beginning. The Bureau of Land Management is currently processing permits for 23 solar thermal projects that represent an additional 15,000 megawatts. The state legislature has created SolarGenerations, WindGenerations and HydroGenerations programs. These programs offer rebates to citizens to install solar, wind and small hydro systems on their property. The rebates are designed to lower the upfront cost of the systems to encourage installation.

5. The City of Reno is making clean energy usage easier. Reno has adopted codes to make it easier for

citizens to install clean-energy systems by removing the special-use permit process and setting up guidelines and restrictions that more closely match those of non clean energy systems.

6. Wind resources are abundant. The Bureau of Land Management’s study of wind resources in Nevada found that we have more than 24 million acres of land within 10 miles of existing transmission lines classified as good to outstanding for development with current technologies. If we excluded environmentally sensitive lands and lands with conflicting use, and only developed the remaining portion, we could generate 63 million megawatt-hours that is 280 percent of the entire state’s current consumption through wind energy alone.

7. Most aggressive Renewable Portfolio Standard in nation. The 2001 legislature took the first step toward

energy independence by requiring Sierra Pacific Resources to purchase alternative energy. The legislators created a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that required 20 percent of energy be provided through renewable sources by 2015. It is the most aggressive standard in the nation as Nevada is one of only two states (California is the other) to have its RPS receive an A-rating from the Union of Concerned Scientists. Studies show at the 20 percent level the RPS will generate $664 million per year to the Nevada economy.

8. State legislature provides LEED tax abatement. Companies have an incentive to do business in Greater Reno-Tahoe and throughout the state with the legislature providing up to 35 percent tax abatement for up to 10 years on real property for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design buildings. Due in large part to this incentive, the Echelon Place in Las Vegas became the world’s largest LEED-certified facility and nearly doubled the total amount of square feet for LEED certified buildings. The MGM MIRAGE’s CityCenter is setting a new standard in LEED-certified construction. The 76-acre mixed-use project along the Vegas Strip is the largest privately financed real estate project in the United States and will host its own energy-efficient power plant and people mover. In Greater Reno-Tahoe you can view innovative examples of green buildings at the Patagonia distribution center, the Joe Crowley Student Union on the University of Nevada, Reno, campus, the Somersett Town Square, Cathexes Architecture, Kiley Ranch visitor center, the 8 on Center residences, and the Tahoe Center of Environmental Sciences.

9. Greater Reno-Tahoe’s research institutions advancing technology. The Desert Research Institute and the University of Nevada, Reno are among the top research institutions leading the way in advancing clean energy technology. Both have Renewable Energy Centers dedicated to leveraging each institution’s particular research strengths into clean energy technologies. The outstanding research being done in these fields has led to the creation of the Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization. The purpose of NIREC is to partner the researchers at these institutions with entrepreneurs in residence to prepare the technologies for the commercial market and eventually into all of our homes.

10. America’s first public biodiesel fueling station was opened in Greater Reno-Tahoe. The RTC buses and most of the local government fleets run biodiesel in their vehicles. Bently Biodiesel is opening a fueling station that only offers biodiesel and ethanol blends in Minden.

Clean energy technology companies are key to a thriving economy and core to the mission of the Economic

Development Authority of Western Nevada which is working to recruit, expand and start up these companies in Greater Reno-Tahoe. According to research EDAWN conducted, 61 percent of the community wants to see more clean energy technology industries. Companies like Altairnano, Inc.; ENEL North

America; GE Energy; and Ormat Technologies which is headquartered in Reno. To join the Greater Reno-

Tahoe clean energy movement, go to http://www.edawn.org or call 829.3705.

Jason Geddes is environmental services administrator for the City of Reno and the Clean Energy Industry Advisor to the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada.


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