Reid continues power push

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Tuesday continued his push to promote the development of renewable energy resources, suggesting that God was the first environmentalist.

During a speech to about 500 renewable energy professionals attending the Renewable Energy World Conference and Expo North America at the Rio, Reid, who has been campaigning to stop the development of new coal-fired energy plants in favor of more environmentally sound renewable energy sources, recounted an ancient rabbinical story about God talking to Adam.

"See my handiwork, how beautiful and choice," God tells Adam, pointing to trees in the Garden of Eden. "Be careful not to ruin and destroy my world, for if you do ... there is no one to repair it after you."

Reid spokesman Jon Summers said that the environmental message is catching as more politically active evangelicals start to support environmentally friendly measures.

In addition to religious reasons, Reid said there are many environmental and economic reasons to support renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and geothermal, over coal-fired power plants.

Reid used his speech to advocate several things that governments could do to help build the renewable-energy industry.

Among them were:

•To let every residential and business utility customer reduce their power bills by installing renewable power at a fair price.

•To set aside tracts of federal land that could be used for renewable-energy production.

•To permit utilities to earn a profit on investments in energy conservation and renewable power programs.

•To develop a grid that could be used to charge electric vehicles, thus reducing the United States' reliance on oil from unstable foreign countries.

The senator said he hopes to pass a bill that will set a national minimum requirement for the portion of power utilities must obtain from renewable energy. Reid also said he hopes to get the one additional vote needed to extend income tax credits for solar, wind and geothermal energy that comes from hot underground water.

Reid said renewable energy would make sense for Nevadans, too.

"If the federal government provides the necessary support for commercialization, solar electric and concentrating solar will reach cost parity with fossil fuels within 20 months," Reid said.

He predicted that power from Sierra Pacific Resources' proposed coal power plant would cost retail customers in Nevada 12 cents or 13 cents per kilowatt hour, compared with 5 cents for geothermal power.

Tom Fair, the renewable energy executive for Sierra Pacific Resources, said Reid's speech on coal power was no surprise.

Fair said the holding company for Nevada Power Co. and Sierra Pacific Power Co. agrees with many of the renewable energy proposals Reid advocated in the keynote speech.

Contact reporter John G. Edwards at or (702) 383-0420.