Energy forum focuses on education, community engagement

Published: Mar. 23, 2017 at 3:57 PM PDT
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Business owners and lawmakers are hosting an energy forum at the Innevation Center Thursday night. It will address all of the energy bills making their way through the legislative process so citizens can get a better idea of some of the renewable options on the table and learn about how to make their voices heard at the legislature.

"We're trying to educate, engage and mobilize people so they can go down to the legislature and deliver an intelligent, understandable message to legislators about why we want solar and why we want clean energy policies," said Kevin McGehee, a small business owner from Reno. "I've been doing it for the last year and a half and the more we can get people participating, the more we can get done. We do have a citizen-friendly legislature so that's why I'm encouraging people to go down and testify."

Assemblyman William McCurdy II (D-LV) is making progress with a bill that would create new energy efficiency programs and opportunities, especially for those that are spending higher percentages of their income on energy.

"This is creating a framework and it's important for me to paint the picture of where these funds are going to come from," McCurdy said. "These are existing funds; if you look at your electricity bill there's a line that says energy efficiency surcharge and everyone pays into this fund but those paying the most are recouping the least from it."

Bill supporters hope this legislation will create jobs and help diversify the state's economy.

"With energy efficiency we're saving money and we're helping to put people to work," said Tom Polikalas of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. "When they're insulating their homes and buildings or retrofitting the lighting or providing better technology for heating and cooling systems, that's creating jobs in a number of sectors that are hard hit. There's the opportunity to create thousands of jobs as we make Nevada more efficient."

Hundreds of people have attended a series of these energy forums at the Innevation Center.