(Sean Whaley/Nevada News Bureau) – With U.S. Sen. Harry Reid’s 5th annual National Clean Energy Summit set to kick off today in Las Vegas, the debate over alternative energy development and the government’s role in its future rages on.
The purpose of the day-long event as described on the website is to, “once again bring together clean energy visionaries and leaders, public officials, business executives and entrepreneurs, investors, students, and the media to discuss how to empower the public with tools to promote the clean energy economy; increasing jobs and our energy independence.”
But the role of the federal government in the development of alternative energy has become a major political topic in this presidential election year, with critics pointing to the closure in July of the solar manufacturing company Amonix in North Las Vegas 14 months after opening.
The company had been awarded $6 million in solar manufacturing tax credits to build the facility, but the company said the credits were never used. The closing was used to criticize President Obama and Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., who is locked in a tough Senate race with Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev. But Politico noted in an article that the Bush Administration first backed the Amonix project in 2007.
The Nevada Policy Research Institute, in an article published today in the Nevada Journal, examined the state’s renewable energy sector and found that over $1.3 billion in federal funds funneled into geothermal, solar and wind projects since 2009 has yielded and is projected to yield just 288 permanent, full-time jobs.
“That’s an initial cost of over $4.6 million per job,” writes Kyle Gillis, a reporter for the NPRI publication. “Despite this, Sen. Reid continues to hype Nevada as the ‘Saudi Arabia of renewable energy,’ even though the renewable energy subsidized with federal dollars and mandated under Nevada’s Renewable Portfolio Standard costs consumers and NV Energy, Nevada’s publicly regulated utility company, up to four times as much as fossil fuels, such as natural gas.”