Recovery Act funds helping to improve Nevada roads, broadband access, and energy efficiency
June 3, 2010
Las Vegas, NV— In the past four months more than 4,000 jobs have been created or saved in Nevada as a result of the Recovery Act. More than half of Nevada’s allocated recovery funding has been spent putting Nevadans back to work improving roads and public transportation, expanding broadband Internet access to rural areas, investing in renewable energy, and improving the energy efficiency of Nevada homes. The Recovery Act has also protected jobs in education, public safety, and corrections.
“The Recovery Act is doing what it is supposed to do,” said Nevada Senator Harry Reid. “Recovery Act money is saving jobs that were in jeopardy, creating new ones to get unemployed Nevadans back to work, and making the quality of life better across the state. This funding is moving Nevada toward economic recovery and a more prosperous future for all Nevadans.”
In case you missed it:
EDITORIAL: Aiding the Economy
The CBO said the act, which has been much maligned by the right wing, has helped the economy every quarter since it took effect, and analysts expects that trend to continue. For the first quarter of this year, the CBO said the act’s policies have:
-- Raised the GDP by up to 4.2 percent;
-- Lowered the unemployment rate by up to 1.5 percentage points; and
-- Increased the number of full-time equivalent jobs by up to 4.1 million.
Democratic Rep. George Miller of California, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, said the report makes it “clear that the Recovery Act was the right decision.”
“Before this Congress and President Obama took decisive action, our nation was losing more than 750,000 jobs a month,” he said. “It is clear that without the Recovery Act, our nation would be still dealing with an economic catastrophe caused by the financial scandals.”
Miller said more should be done to continue spurring the economy forward, and he is correct. Unemployment, at 9.9 percent nationally and 13.7 percent in Nevada, is still too high. The Commerce Department reported last week that consumer spending was stagnant in April.
Congress continues to work to find ways to stimulate the economy and help people who have been hurt, but Republicans and some Democrats have tried to stop or slow those efforts. Conservatives have tried to paint stimulus spending as wasteful and ineffective, and that has slowed progress.
On Friday, the House narrowly passed a bill that extends benefits to unemployed workers and provides a series of tax cuts to stimulate the economy. The legislation was scaled down because of complaints about spending, no matter what the CBO report showed.
It is a shame that some members of Congress don’t see the facts. As the CBO report shows, without the Recovery Act, the nation would have been more deeply mired in the economic downturn — but the nation still needs more help. Yet some members of Congress don’t get that.
Republicans in the Senate, for example, tried last week to siphon off stimulus money to go toward immigration enforcement — instead of creating jobs. Thankfully, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was able to work to kill that plan.
Reid has been diligent in his efforts to improve the economy, for Nevada as well as the nation. For example, last week he led the Senate in passing an appropriations bill that includes funding to help Nevada, and he introduced legislation aimed at spurring the creation of renewable energy jobs here.
The nation needs more of that kind of thinking because we are not out of the economic woods yet. Hopefully, enough members of Congress will see that Americans are still suffering and will take action to do something about it.
Reno first in nation with wind turbines atop city hall
Reno is the first U.S. city to install wind turbines atop its City Hall, several Reno officials boasted Wednesday while showing off the "hoop" turbines on the roof.
The city also is the first agency conducting research to test the strengths and weaknesses of seven different turbines, which will be reported to the U.S. Department of Energy, said Jason Geddes, city energy administrator. He said results from the first four of nine turbines to be installed around the city will be put on the city's web site by the end of June. While national ratings now exist for solar panels, Geddes said none exist for wind turbines.
Councilman Dave Aiazzi said real-time data from anemometers measuring wind speed and the electrical output of the turbines will be made public.
The city website will have a map showing three-dimensional airflow, turbine locations and data so people have an idea of the potential wind resource near their homes and businesses, Aiazzi said.
"When we first started doing this several years ago, I never dreamed we would be doing it on top of City Hall," Aiazzi said.
The city has two 1.5 kilowatt "hoop" turbines on the roof of the 17-story City Hall at 1 E. First St., and a third is planned. Two more will be on the city's parking garage in July.
Nine turbines from seven manufacturers, including Reno's Windspire, are being installed to test their performances in different environments. The first turbine was installed at the sewer plant in Stead and the second at Mira Loma Park.
The nine turbines and several solar projects together are a $3.5 million investment, before $1.7 million in energy rebates are applied to reduce that cost. The projects are expected to save 788,932 kilowatt hours a year for an annual savings of $91,000 a year.
That means the investment should pay for itself in 18.9 years, Geddes said.
But given that all federal dollars were used, "the payback for us is immediate. It's all at zero cost in local dollars," he said.
The city is investing $19 million in new energy technology, as well as retrofitting City Hall, the police station and other city buildings. The initiative is being paid through economic energy stimulus grants, energy rebates and bonds to be paid with energy savings.
The work, overseen by APS Energy Services, is being done without an investment from the city's general fund. Energy savings will be shared between the firm and the city.
Geddes said the top of City Hall is an ideal location for the turbines because of a tall set of buildings starting at Arlington Towers along the Truckee River that creates an urban wind tunnel almost all the time.
Officials said inquiries about the project have been made by USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, a San Francisco Chronicle website, Governing magazine, Outside magazine and Web-based media, including Environment & Energy Daily, Greenwire, Climatewire, Treehugger, InHabitat and USA Green Stories.
Chuck Alvey, Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada executive director, said recruiting alternative energy companies to the area is a top priority and national publicity helps that effort.
Reno Mayor Bob Cashell pointed out the fastest-spinning turbine is on the southwest corner of the roof, right over his office.
"All of the hot air is coming out of my office," he said.
Millions of Stimulus Dollars come to Nevada
LAS VEGAS -- More stimulus money is headed to the state to fix the roads. So far, more than $200 million has been awarded to Nevada.
While it may mean some short term traffic tie ups, in the long run, it equals road improvements, a lot of new construction jobs, and a boom for some local businesses.
Nevada recovery road funds could create or sustain as many as 5,600 jobs.
Mary Martini, the head engineer for the Las Vegas area at the Nevada Department of Transportation, says from landscaping to paving roads, this is providing jobs.
"Let's just say you are doing a paving job, you need a paving crew, which is four to six people, you need trucks to haul the mix, so you've got 20 to 30 truck drivers, you need to have a plant that's producing the mix, so you've got a dozen workers there," she said.
Martini takes tours throughout Clark County to see where this money is going and some of the projects already in the works.
Aside from jobs, places near work sites, like Lou's Family Diner, are also set to benefit from these projects.
"I think it would ripple down to everybody. If you stop and think about it, the convenience store, they'd run and get their pop and they'd have lunch here. We serve breakfast and lunch all day long. I think it would help everyone," said owner Lou Lauber.
Lauber waitressed here for 25 years, then bought this diner 13 years ago. She's hoping being so close to a work site will lure some workers to her diner.
The first recovery work started last July, but with 90-percent of projects awarded to contractors and warmer weather, expect projects to start popping up throughout southern Nevada.
'Cash for Clunker' appliance deadline extended
Nevadans who made a reservation to get an appliance rebate through that federal "Cash for Clunker Appliance" program, have longer to send in their paperwork.
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