Areas of Interest
Nevada is at the forefront of clean energy. As Senate Democratic Leader, I am working to help Nevada and the nation advance energy policies that will create good paying jobs, bring new industries to our state, and end our addiction to fossil fuels that contributes to climate change.
In March 2012, I released a report that details how Nevada’s renewable energy economy has grown, thanks in part to federal legislation focused on spurring investment in clean energy, and policy reforms that have accelerated the deployment of clean energy projects on federal lands. Click here to read the report.
I strongly believe that Nevada can be a net exporter of renewable power with the right public-private partnerships. Nevada’s abundance of clear sunny days attracts innovative businesses and makes it one of the best locations for solar energy in the world. Northern Nevada holds some of the largest untapped geothermal resources in the United States, and there are tremendous wind resources throughout the state.
The economic benefits of realizing this clean renewable energy potential is one of the reasons why I have co-hosted the annual National Clean Energy Summit for the past six years. These Summits have helped bring Nevada’s potential to the attention of the world, including investors, project developers and federal officials. Each annual clean energy summit has reinforced the fact that our environment and national security rests on our ability to access and develop cleaner domestic energy resources and greater energy efficiency.
Over the last decade, I have supported important federal and state policies and incentives that have helped expand Nevada’s clean energy infrastructure. For instance, I recently worked to pass the American Taxpayer Relief Act. This law extended the renewable energy production tax credit for one year and made this tax credit available to any eligible renewable energy projects that will begin construction in 2013.
The renewable energy production tax credit, which is typically utilized by wind and geothermal projects, allows clean energy projects to claim a 2.2 cent per kilowatt hour tax credit for electricity produced over a 10-year period. The tax credit, in coordination with other important federal policies, has been an important tool that has helped leverage hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in Nevada’s renewable energy resources. These types of federal policies, in combination with important state efforts, such as Nevada’s renewable portfolio standard, are paying significant dividends to Nevadans and positioning the Silver State for future successes in clean energy.
In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) helped Nevada and our country take significant steps towards realizing their clean energy potential. Through the Recovery Act, Nevada has received over $550 million for a range of energy efficiency, renewable, infrastructure, and weatherization projects as well as hundreds of millions in low-cost financing for transmission and renewable energy deployment projects. This legislation also provided competitive funding for geothermal technologies, biomass research and development, and advanced battery manufacturing. These types of investments fund innovative clean energy projects that help cost-effectively reduce our inefficient use of dirty fossil fuels and, through the electrification of our transportation sector, reduce our addiction to oil.
One of the largest impediments to increasing electricity generation from clean renewable sources is access to transmission lines. That is why I have led efforts to develop a cleaner, greener, and smarter electrical grid without sacrificing reliability or affordability. This will ensure a more secure and sustainable energy future for America.
Some of Nevada’s best renewable energy resources are located in rural areas where access to transmission lines is sorely lacking. Upgrading transmission lines in these energy rich locations will create jobs and power towns and cities throughout our great state.
Reducing energy consumption and becoming more energy efficient in our communities, homes, and businesses is the most cost-effective and practical way to increase total energy supplies, reduce harmful pollution, and protect our economy from volatile energy prices. Thanks to the $38 million in weatherization funding provided by the Recovery Act, Nevada families permanently reduced their costs by reducing energy usage and making homes more energy efficient, saving families an average of $437 on energy bills each year.
Throughout my time in Congress, I have supported legislation to improve standards for federal and commercial buildings, as well as appliances and lighting Landmark energy legislation passed in 2007 lead to consumer appliances, including dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerators, and freezers using less electricity, which reduced consumer energy bills. In addition, new buildings are using significantly less energy compared to existing buildings, with the federal government leading the way in the development of technologies that contribute to new design standards and codes through the zero net energy initiative for federal buildings.