New Report Focuses on Renewable Energy in Nevada

A new state report calls for developing transmission lines so that geothermal, wind and solar energy can be shipped from remote areas of Nevada to cities.

Dan Schochet, chairman of the Renewable Energy Access Advisory
Committee created by Gov. Jim Gibbons, said the document calls for
Nevada to develop its vast renewable energy resources for in-state
use and for export to other states.

"Increased renewable energy development will be the key that frees Nevada of its dependence on imported energy," Gibbons said in releasing the report Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. said the report supports one of his legislative priorities to provide federal funding for "green" power lines.

The report includes maps that show zones with the best geothermal, wind and solar power resources. Reid last year introduced federal legislation that would establish zones for transmission lines and would provide federal money to build them.

"It looks clear to me from these maps that the renewable resource zones identified would warrant, all on their own, building a transmission connection between the Sierra Pacific and Nevada Power service areas," Reid stated.

The report didn't include a draft document that estimated various alternative energy sources could generate more power than the 7,000 megawatts the state currently needs - an omission described as "curious" by energy activist Dan Geary.

Geary said committee members who didn't want the draft document
in the report included Sierra Pacific Power Co. representatives. While the utility supports clean-energy efforts, it also has proposed a major coal-fired power plant in eastern Nevada.

But Geary and Charles Benjamin of the conservation group Western
Resource Advocates praised the report as a good tool in the ongoing
effort to expand use of renewable energy in Nevada.

"We can all nitpick, but in general the people on the committee were serious and knowledgeable," Benjamin said. "Everyone brings their own agenda, but that can be very useful."

In one recommendation, the advisory committee urged the governor's office to support construction of a transmission line to connect Nevada's northern and southern electric grids.

This would allow southern Nevada to use geothermal energy, which
comes from hot underground water found mostly in northern Nevada,
analysts say. Alternatively, northern Nevada could draw on solar power generated more efficiently in the hot southern end of the state.

The report called for the governor's office to support construction of transmission lines and smaller lines so that power from renewable energy plants could be connected to the electric grid. The smaller lines could be used to gather power from several nearby plants and feed them into larger transmission lines.

The committee also proposed that the governor direct the committee to start a second phase of work, dealing with financing mechanisms for renewable power transmission lines.

The state could use government money, possibly through a transmission authority like those created in some Western states, or encourage Nevada Power and Sierra Pacific Power to build "green" power transmission lines.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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