A Colorado-based environmental group says Nevada and six other Western states could save $2 billion yearly and enjoy cleaner air if the energy industry increases the use of green power and improves conservation.
A report released Tuesday by Western Resource Advocates of Boulder, Colo., says the states could acheive the savings by 2020 by adopting a balanced energy plan that includes more renewable power, such as solar and wind power, and increased energy conservation.
The balanced plan calls for about 20 percent of power used in the seven states, or about 15,000 megawatts, to come from renewable resources. That would include 3,500 megawatts from Nevada, a state rich in solar, wind and geothermal energy.
Richard Burdette, Gov. Kenny Guinn's energy adviser, said the savings estimate sounds reasonable, adding that Nevadans spend about $2.5 billion yearly on energy.
"It doesn't surprise me at all that in the entire West you could save $2 billion through renewable energy and conservation and the like," said Burdette.
Jon Wellinghoff, an energy lawyer with Beckley Singleton, said he believes that Nevada can exceed that level for renewable power.
"Nevada has abundant resources. It could easily achieve 25 percent or more (from renewable resources) by 2020," Wellinghoff said.
Under Nevada's renewable portfolio standard, electric utilities are supposed to get 15 percent of their power from green power sources by 2013, he explained.
Nevada Power Co. of Las Vegas and Reno-based Sierra Pacific Power Co., subsidiaries of Sierra Pacific Resources, failed to meet a requirement for an initial 5 percent of renewable energy, but Wellinghoff is confident the initial problems will be overcome.
"It's a startup issue," Wellinghoff said. "Once it gets into full operation, I don't think we'll have any problem in meeting our portfolio standard."