Reid Urges Swift Use Of Stimulus Funds For Renewable Energy And Transmission Projects

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 Washington, DC – Nevada Senator Harry Reid today sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to expedite the spending of Recovery Act funds that have been appropriated for job-creating clean energy projects in Nevada and around the country, and to work with Congress to restore funds for future projects.  Nevada is waiting on the Administration for financing for the construction of projects such as the Southwest Intertie Project (SWIP), the Solar Reserve project near Tonopah, and the Fulcrum bio-fuels project in Reno, among several others.  These projects will put Nevadans back to work, diversify our state’s economy and lead us to energy independence.  A copy of Reid’s letter to the President is included below.

August 5, 2010

The President
The White House
Washington, D.C.  20500

Dear Mr. President:

As I wrote to you in September, I believe a vigorous Department of Energy Loan Guarantee program for renewable energy and transmission projects will create jobs and move the country toward a clean energy economy.  Unfortunately, despite my repeated efforts to encourage the Administration to fully and immediately implement this program, the OMB has imposed unnecessary and bureaucratic hurdles that have stalled progress.

As you may know, I have met with Secretary Chu and former OMB Director Orszag to urge them to more expeditiously spend the Recovery Act funds appropriated for this program.  Unfortunately, very little apparent progress has occurred since then, and absent a change in course, it might not be possible to obligate the balance of the funds by the September 2011 deadline.

It is extremely important to Nevada and the country that the Administration act now to use the funds available to this critical program.  Billions of dollars for solar and other important clean energy projects are awaiting Administration approval, meaning thousands of new, desperately needed jobs hang in the balance.  For example, we are awaiting word from the Administration on financing for construction of Nevada’s Southwest Intertie Project (SWIP), the Solar Reserve project near Tonopah and the Fulcrum bio-fuels project in Reno, among many others.

It is also essential that the Administration keep its commitment to restore the funds taken from this program last summer to offset the costs of the “Cash for Clunkers” program.  As you know, the House and Senate agreed to allow these funds to be redirected to this program with the understanding that you would work with us to replenish them.  I hope you will work with us to do so as soon as possible.

I know you agree that the economic and environmental benefits of the DOE Loan Guarantee program are enormous.  That is why I urge your Administration to effectively and immediately disburse the program’s funds and present us with your proposal to replenish what was temporarily re-allocated for “Cash for Clunkers.”  The sooner you do both, the sooner we can put Nevadans back to work.

On another note, I am deeply concerned that the Administration has not sought to factor in unemployment conditions as it decides how to distribute funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  While I appreciate that formulas justify for much of that allocation, it seems highly appropriate and important that additional consideration be given to states that endure high unemployment, and especially Nevada, which suffers from the highest rate in the country.  For instance, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas has submitted a proposal to DOE to create something both the nation and my State need – a solar innovation and deployment center.  It will help create jobs; accelerate integration of solar power technology into buildings, communities and power systems; and help the Southwest realize its immense solar-energy potential.  That should be a simple question of reprogramming Recovery Act funds to high-unemployment states like Nevada.

I know we share the desire and dedication to help our economy fully recover by putting Americans back to work.  Implementing the DOE loan guarantee program, restoring its funding and sending Recovery Act funds where they are needed most will each help achieve these critical goals.


Majority Leader

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