NPRI to Reid: Tell the truth about 'clean energy'

  • Wednesday, February 20, 2013

LAS VEGAS — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is scheduled later today to address the Nevada Legislature, after announcing earlier this week that he will, once again, highlight solar energy as an example of Nevada’s “clean energy potential.”

In response to that announcement, Nevada Policy Research Institute President Andy Matthews released the following comments:

It’s time that Senator Reid address the accumulating evidence — regularly reported in the national media and seen right here in Nevada — that state and federal government subsidies for so-called “clean energy” initiatives are only a huge, wasteful, crony-capitalist boondoggle.

These government handouts to inefficient providers, which cost middle-class taxpayers millions for each permanent job, are only lowering Nevadans’ standard of living. That’s what happens when government makes people purchase inefficient energy that’s up to four times as expensive as energy from the most efficient sources.

For years, Senator Reid has promised Nevadans that “clean energy” subsidies would help grow and diversify our economy. His taxpayer-funded windmills, however, are a net drag on the Silver State economy.

Since 2009, taxpayers have funneled more than $1.3 billion into geothermal, solar and wind projects in Nevada, but these projects have produced just 288 permanent jobs. That’s over $4.6 million in subsidies per job.

Senator Reid likes to highlight the number of temporary jobs associated with these projects, but the problem is that temporary jobs are fleeting. What our economy in Nevada needs is permanent and sustainable employment — which means jobs created by and grounded in the natural, private, market-based economy. Genuine, sustainable economic growth does not come from career politicians’ “juice” schemes to get federal dollars into the hands of their big-dollar campaign donors.

As examples, Matthews noted that now-completed solar plants near Primm and Boulder City have only seven full-time employees total after receiving $92 million in federal subsidies and $12 million in tax rebates from the State of Nevada. Matthews continued:

Notably, Senator Reid worked hard to kill coal-powered plants in rural Nevada that would have employed hundreds in a struggling community, and without federal handouts.

The best full-time jobs that Reid's “green energy” efforts have produced haven’t gone to average citizens, but to former Reid aides working for politically connected “green energy” companies, or for his son Rory Reid, as a lobbyist for Chinese ENN Energy Group.

According to media reports, Sen. Reid will call for the state legislature to increase Nevada’s renewable portfolio standard. Currently, laws passed by state lawmakers require that 25 percent of the energy purchased by residents of the Silver State must come from “renewable” sources by 2025.

Said Matthews:

Senator Reid likes to say that Nevada is the Saudi Arabia of “renewable energy,” but there are two major problems with this analogy. First, Saudi Arabia’s energy helps that economy, and second, Saudi Arabia doesn’t need government mandates to sell its product.

The bottom line is that coal-powered plants produce electricity at a much lower price than do green-energy plants. Currently, NV Energy pays 3 to 5 cents per kilowatt-hour for natural gas and coal-fueled power, 8 to 10 cents per kWh for geothermal energy and for wind energy and 11 to 13 cents per kWh for solar photovoltaic energy. Wind and solar photovoltaic energy also require backup power for “intermittency issues.”

Further increasing Nevada’s renewable portfolio standard will further increase the price of electricity for Nevada’s ratepayers.

While these power-bill increases on Nevadans may not affect Senator Reid, in his $1 million Ritz Carlton condo in Washington, D.C., they reduce the standard of living for Silver State residents.

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